Massachusetts State Census, 1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Massachusetts State Census, 1865
This article describes a collection of records at
Massachusetts, United States
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Location of Massachusetts
Record Description
Record Type State Census
Collection years 1865
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of population schedules listing inhabitants of the State of Massachusetts in 1865. This project was indexed in partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). The census schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by street in order of visitation.

In 1855, the legislature directed that a census be taken on June 1 of that year and every 10 years thereafter. The 1865 census was conducted on May 1. The census schedules were delivered to the State Secretary and eventually sent to the State Archives for safe keeping. These records cover more than 95% of the Massachusetts population.

The state census of Massachusetts was taken in order to enumerate the population for representation purposes. Censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts State Census, 1865.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Information in the census may include the following:

  • City and ward where census was taken
  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Birthplace
  • Occupation
  • Marital status

Collection Content

Sample Image

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age or birth year of your ancestor
  • The residence of your ancestor
  • The names of other family members and their relationships

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Town, Ward to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family
  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family
  • Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States
  • If they are subject to military service they may have military files in the State or National Archives
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or school records
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related
  • Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records
  • Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county
  • You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child
  • You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents
  • Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census
  • The census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"Massachusetts State Census, 1865." Database with images. FamilySearch. : 14 June 2016. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. State Archives, Boston.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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