United States Census Indexes

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United States  >  U.S. Census  >  Indexes

Index Accuracy

The information in an index may be incomplete or incorrect. If you have reason to believe your ancestor should have been in the census, search the census regardless of the information in the index. In large cities, learn the person's address by searching the city directory. for the same year as the census (see the “Directories” section of this outline). Then look for that address on the original census schedules starting in 1880. Prior to 1880 it may be helpful to learn the ward where a person resided.

Related Content



  • Record Search, a rapidly expanding set of free online indexes and document images, including many United States federal and state censuses; part of FamilySearch.
  • FamilySearch, a free online service of the Family History Library, including an index of the 1880 federal census of the United States; connected with 1880 census images provided by Ancestry.com, a subscription site.
  • BYU Family History Archives provides free online digital images of family history books and a few census indexes from participating institutions such as Brigham Young University Library, Allen County Public Library, or the Family History Library.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau published several 1790 census indexes which are now online for free as .pdf files.
  • HeritageQuest has arranged with many subscribing public libraries in the United States to allow users free access on home computers by means of their personal library card numbers. HeritageQuest provides images of all surviving 1790 to 1930 federal censuses, and indexes to many but not all of them.
  • Footnote.com, a subscription site partnering with the National Archives and includes many federal censuses. Free access is available at many public libraries. New censuses are added frequently.

Microfiche and Microfilms

  • Accelerated Indexing Systems U.S. Census Indexes (on Microfiche) describes the AIS microfiche census indexes. This set of microfiche is available at larger genealogical libraries.
  • Soundex indexes are available on microfilm for many states for the census years 1880 (families with children under age 10 only), 1900, 1910 (not all states), and 1920 (not all states). These Soundex microfilms are availabe where ever the population schedule microfilms are available.

Books and Periodicals

  • Book indexes to census records are available at most genealogical repositories. The databases used to print these books are now mostly available online as part of Ancestry.com or HeritageQuest.
  • Genealogical periodicals often publish extracts of local censuses. Most of these can be located by using the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). The periodicals are available at larger genealogical repositories. The Periodical Source Index is available online at HeritageQuest and Ancestry.com.