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Find the Parents and Siblings of Your Ancestor in the United States, 1850-1940

Census indexes can help you locate your ancestors. People were listed in national, state and territorial census records. The national census was done every ten years. Other censuses were often done five years after the national census. Most census records are available online.

Step 1. Search for your ancestor in the first census after their birth

Search the census at:

  2. (free at many libraries and all FamilySearch Centers)

Step 2. Verify the census information with a vital record 

Vital records (births, marriage, and deaths) provide evidence to clarify what was learned from other records. Try the following:

  3. Family History Library: search the catalog by "Place-names" to see if there are indexes and certificates on microfilm.


Find your ancestor in each consecutive census.

Always look at the original record, not just the index or transcript.

If you don't find the person in the census near est thier birth try one near their marriage or death.

If you only have initials for one of the parent's given name try searching by the other parent's name.