Massachusetts, State Census, 1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Massachusetts State Census, 1865 .
This Collection will include records from 1865.
The census schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by street in order of visitation.
In 1855, the legislature directed that a census be taken on June 1 of that year and every 10 years thereafter. The 1865 census was conducted on May 1. The census schedules were delivered to the State Secretary and eventually sent to the State Archives for safe keeping. These records cover more than 95% of the Massachusetts population.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
The state census of Massachusetts was taken in order to enumerate the population for representation purposes.
Censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.
Information in the census:
- City and ward where census was taken
- Marital status
How to Use the Records
To begin your search it is helpful to know
- The name of your ancestor
- Some other identifying information such as age, birth place or residence
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Town, Ward" which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor in the census, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:
- Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family.
- Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
- Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States.
- If they are subject to military service they may have military files in the State or National Archives.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- In the Record Search index for this collection, "household id" represents column two on the original census, which is labeled "Families numbered in the order of visitation".
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or school records; children’s occupations are often listed as “at school.”
- It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
- Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
- Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county.
- You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
- You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
- Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
- The census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals with the same family number.
- There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Massachusetts, State Census, 1865
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Massachusetts, State Census, 1865." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. State Archives, Boston.
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