Existing and lost censuses
For a list of available and missing Virginia censuses, click here.
Federal censuses are increasingly available online and on microfilm.
1810 (partial)–1930: The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the U.S. federal censuses for the state of Virginia.
1850 United States Census—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1850, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.
--1860 United States Census—A free Internet index and images to the 1860 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1860, birthplace, occupation, other family members, whether married or single, and neighbors.
1870 United States Census---A free internet index and images can be viewed on FamilySearch Record Pilot site. This index includes the full name, age, sex, race, birthplace, occupation, month if born in census year, month if married in census year, birth place of father and mother, if born in a foreign country.
1880 United States Census– A Free Internet Index and Images to the US Census can be viewed on the Family Search Record Pilot – Pilot Site. This index includes an every name index to population schedules listing inhabitants. It includes the full name, race, sex, age, birth month (if born during the previous year), relationship to head of household, whether married, single or divorced, whether married during the previous year, country or state of birth of each person and his parent’s, occupation and street address and house number.
1900 Federal Census - A free Internet index and images to the 1900 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. Important additions to this census are month and year of birth of each household member, number of years married for each married person, number of children born to each mother and the number of those still living, year of immigration, and number of years in the United States.
Substitutes for missing censuses:
Most published substitutes are based on state censuses and tax lists. Each covers different counties. Most of present-day West Virginia is included in the second item, but both must be used for a complete search of West Virginia.
- Fothergill, Augusta B. and John Mark Naugle. Virginia Tax Payers, 1782-87, Other than Those Published by the United States Census Bureau. 1940. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1966. (Family History Library book 975.5 R4f 1966; Family History Library film 874197 item 4.)
- Heads of Families . . . Records of the State Enumerations: 1782 to 1785, Virginia. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Southern Book Company, 1952. (Family History Library book 975.5 X2us 1790; Family History Library film 874193 item 4.)
For the missing portions of the 1810 census use:
- Netti Schreiner-Yantis, A Supplement to the 1810 Census of Virginia: Tax Lists of the Counties for Which the Census is Missing (Springfield, Virginia: Genealogical Books in Print, 1971; Family History Library book 975.5 R4s). This includes information from 19 counties that are missing from the 1810 census.
When indexes are not available or a name is omitted, you can still look for the name in the census. In large cities it helps to first learn the person's address by searching the city directory under the census year (see the “Directories” section). Then look for that address on the original census schedules.
Ancestry.com ($$): Has all available years searchable by the name, birth year, and many other options, with links to the digitized images of the census pages.
HeritageQuest Online: Has indexes for most of the census years and images for all years. While they do not offer personal subscriptions, a public or academic library near you likely subscribes. The way the census was indexed is different from the way Ancestry was indexed.
- Jackson, Ronald Vern. AIS Microfiche Indexes of U.S. Census and Other Records. Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1984. (No Family History Library fiche number but available at many Family History Centers.) Several Virginia 1607-1810 tax and residents lists and the 1810 census index are combined together on Search 1. Separate 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 indexes are on other searches.
Statewide indexes are available for the 1810 (partial),1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870, censuses.
County-wide indexes sometimes help locate names overlooked in statewide indexes. Several county-wide indexes are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under VIRGINIA, [COUNTY] - CENSUS.
The 1890 Union veterans schedules are available at the Family History Library on Family History Library films 338265-66. They are also available at the National Archives. The veterans schedules for Virginia have been indexed.
- Dilts, Bryan Lee. 1890 Virginia Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows. Salt Lake City, Utah: Index Publishing, 1986.
Mortality schedules (lists of deaths during the census year) for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses are available on microfilm at the Family History Library. The Library of Virginia has the original 1850, 1870, and 1880 schedules. Duke University (William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706) has the 1860 schedules. The 1850 and 1860 schedules for the area that later became West Virginia are also on microfilm at the Family History Library and the West Virginia Archives and History Library.
1850 United States Census Mortality Schedules—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census Mortality Schedules can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search - Pilot Site. Mortality schedules provided nationwide death statistics for the twelve months prior to the 1850 census. Key genealogical facts found on the 1850 mortality schedule are: Name, age, sex, color, married or widowed, birthplace, month of death, occupation, cause of death.
Slave schedules for 1850 and 1860 list the names of slave owners but do not normally list the names of the slaves. The number of slaves, the gender, and the slaves' age ranges are given. Virginia slave schedules at the Family History Library are cataloged with the census population schedules.
1850 United States Census Slave Schedules—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census Slave Schedules can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site listing each slave owner's name and residence. It also shows the age, gender, and color of the slaves. Slave names are not normally listed.
There were no state censuses taken by Virginia.
In addition to the federal censuses, lists of residents are available for some colonial years. The lists of 1624 and 1787 have been published and are available at the Family History Library. These censuses list only the heads of households.
Several census substitutes have been compiled, including:
- Virginia in 1740: A Reconstructed Census. Miami Beach, Florida: T.L.C. Genealogy, 1992. (Family History Library book 975.5 X22t 1740; Family History Library film 1697799 Item 3 ).
Heritage Quest Online: http://www.heritagequestonline.com
Census Online: http://www.census-online.com/links/VA/
Genealogy Today: http://dir.genealogytoday.com/usa/va/census.html
Access Genealogy: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/census/virginia.htm
Mortality Schedules: http://mortalityschedules.com/
Virginia Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.