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A census is a count and description of a population. Censuses have been taken by various governments of Brazil and by some ecclesiastical officials. Census records are not frequently used in Brazilian family history research because better sources such as church records and civil registrations exist.

After compiling statistical information, the original census returns in Brazil were often destroyed. Census records of some areas still exist at regional archives, and some ecclesiastical censuses are found in diocesan archives. Information is given here concerning census records of the following regions and people:

  • Bahia State Census
  • São Paulo State Census
  • Paraná State Census
  • Polish Census


Bahia State Census

The administrative section of the Bahia state archives (Arquivo do Estado), in Salvador, has 10 volumes of census records (população) for 1890. These records are of children who resided in the parishes of Santo Antônio Além do Carmo, Sant’Ana da Ilha de Maré, São Pedro, Itapoã, and Conceição. You will need to visit the state archives in Bahia to search these records. See Brazil Archives and Libraries for the address.

São Paulo State Census

The São Paulo state archives (Arquivo do Estado in São Paulo) has census records (população) covering 1765 to 1840. These records cover all of the state of São Paulo, which was much larger then than it is now. These records are contained in 226 metal boxes and document complete families, with relationships, ages, residences, and in some cases birthplaces of the individuals.

The following information about São Paulo census records comes from pages 154 to 156 of Lyman De Platt’s book Genealogical Historical Guide to Latin America (FHL book 980 D27p):

In the archive is a metal box entitled População–- Capital–-Anos 1818–1827––Caixa 36. This box contains seven bundles of census records. Each census record contains basically the same personal information for each person, including given names, ages, nationalities, civil statuses, occupations, and military classifications (for the military census). These bundles comprise:

Military census of 1818 for São Paulo’s nine companies. The census list for each company comprises about 50 folios.

Parish census of 1818 for the state of São Paulo, in 11 bundles of about 50 folios each.

Census of 1822 to 1823 for the state of São Paulo. There are about 650 pages, or 1,300 folios in these three bundles, numbered 2, 3 and 7.

Census of 1825 to 1826 for the state of São Paulo. These records are made up of about 475 pages, or 950 folios in bundles numbered 4 and 5.

Census of 1827 for the state of São Paulo, located in bundle 6, which consists of about 200 pages.

The São Paulo state archives also has other census records of its former region from 1765 to 1858. The information included in these censuses is similar to that in the records described above. These records have not been filmed by the Family History Library and are currently available only through the state archive in São Paulo. Following is a list of these records, listed by localities and years:

Apiaí 1776–1846

Arêas 1817–1825, 1828–1830, 1832–1846

Atibaia-Nazaré 1765–1820, 1822–1826, 1828–1850

Bragança 1798–1816, 1818–1822, 1824–1847

Campinas 1797–1836

Cananéia 1765–1856

Capital (São Paulo) 1765–1798, 1801–1805,1807–1811, 1813–1827, 1829–1846

Cotia 1765–1847

Cunha 1789–1836

Faxina 1775–1846

Franca 1824–1848

Guaratinguetá 1765–1798, 1800–1836

Guarulhos 1765–1798, 1802–1842

Iguape-Xiririca 1765–1825, 1828–1872

Itanhaem 1765–1846

Itapetininga 1769–1799, 1801–1850

Itú 1765–1778, 1782–1847

Jacareí 1765–1829

Jacareí-Paraibuna-Sta Branca-Jundiaí 1767–1783, 1785–1842, 1830–1850

Juquirí 1767–1808, 1810–1846

Lorena 1789–1825, 1828–1850

Moji das Cruzes 1765–1777, 1779–1799, 1801–1820, 1822–1850

Moji Guaçú 1765–1846

Moji Mirim 1765–1787, 1789–1799, 1801–1818, 1820–1830, 1832–1850

Parnaíba 1765–1780

Parnaíba-S. Roque 1781–1818, 1820–1825, 1827–1858

Pindamonhangaba 1766–1846

Piracicaba 1822–1828, 1832–1850

Porto Feliz 1797–1811, 1813–1825, 1827–1843

Santo Amaro 1765–1802, 1804–1847

Santos 1765–1799, 1801–1822, 1824–1846

São Bernardo 1776–1846

São José dos Campos 1803–1818, 1820–1847

São Luiz Paraitinga 1775–1843

São Sebastião 1765–1850

São Vicente 1765–1846

Sorocaba-Faxina-Itapetininga 1765–1776

Sorocaba 1777–1783, 1785–1810, 1812–1829, 1835–1846

Taubaté 1765–1786, 1789–1799, 1801–1810, 1812–1820, 1822–1836

Ubatuba 1765–1850

Vila Bela 1806–1855

Paraná State Census

Census records for the state of Paraná are housed in the Arquivo do Estado in São Paulo. These records have not been filmed by the Family History Library. They include the following records:

Antonina 1798–1826, 1828–1835

Castro 1789–1820, 1822–1846

Curitiba 1765–1798, 1800–1806, 1809–1822, 1824–1846

Guaratuba 1775–1844

Lages 1776–1818

Paranaguá 1767–1799, 1801–1850

Príncipe 1806–1818, 1822–1850

Polish Census

References to Polish census records for the southern part of Brazil may be found in:

Arquivos Para a História do Brasil Meridional (Archives of the History of Southern Brazil). Curitiba, Brazil: (Papelaria Requião Ltda.), 1971. (FHL book 981.6 B4b no. 14)

Information about Italian and Polish immigrants in southern Brazil can also be found in the Arquivo dos Padres da Congregação de São Vicente de Paulo (Archive of the Priests of the São Vincente de Paulo Parish) in Curitiba, Paraná.

Searching Census Records

When searching census records it is important to remember the following:

  • Information may be incorrect.
  • Accept the ages with caution.
  • Given names may not always be the same as the names recorded in vital records.
  • Names may be spelled as they sound.
  • Place names may be misspelled or spelled phonetically.
  • If the family is not found at a suspected address, search the surrounding area.
  • Parts of some censuses are indecipherable.

When you find your ancestor in one census, search that same location in the earlier and later census records for additional family members.

Searching in Big Cities

Finding your ancestor’s family in the census records of a large city and learning the street where the family resided will also enable you to search other records such as church records and civil registrations.

If possible, determine your ancestor’s address for the time period of the census you are searching. Sources that sometimes give street addresses for cities in Brazil include:

  • Civil certificates of births, marriages, and deaths.
  • Church records of christenings, marriages, and burials.
  • City directories from various years (see Brazil Directories).


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