Collection Information

Because of the age of these censuses, their condition may not be as good as more recent enumerations, and it is more likely that fragments are missing. On the other hand, with the relative scarcity of other records for this time, this makes surviving censuses all the more valuable.

Many countries took periodic censuses to keep track of various aspects of the population. Where available, these records often include helpful details about your ancestors and their families.

While the questions in census records vary from place to place, and year to year, enumerations from the 1700s are generally leaner in content, but are nonetheless useful because they place your ancestor in a particular location at the time of the census. Knowing this you can branch out to nearby churches, cemeteries, and civil records that may include more detail.

Search Tips

  • The census was to record everyone who slept in the house on census night, including travelers.
  • Pinpoint your ancestor's location from the census on a map, and then look for churches, cemeteries, and other places where your ancestor may have left records.
  • Be sure to locate your ancestor's adult siblings in census records. It was common for extended family to live in the same household or near other family members. You may find a parent, grandparent, or other family members living either with them or nearby.
  • If you're having a difficult time locating your ancestor, try searching using only given names and other details like birth year, residence, family members, place of birth, etc.
  • Occasionally, census takers only recorded initials in place of the given name. Using only a first initial will bring up these records.
  • Census takers didn't always have the best penmanship, so if you're having a hard time locating your ancestor, write out the name and try replacing some of the letters with letters that look similar.