Massachusetts, State Census, 1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Massachusetts State Census, 1865 .

Contents

Record Description

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.

This information pertains to records created in 1865. 

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.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts state census, 1865. Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.}

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Genealogical information in the census:

Massachusetts 1865 Census.jpg
  • Name
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Condition (Marital status, 1865 only)
  • Occupation

How to Use the Records

Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the census index. Use the locator information in the index (such as page number or family number) to locate your ancestors in the census. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image. Compare the information in the census to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

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".

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.
  • 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.

Some other helpful tips to keep in mind are:

  • 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.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

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 Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"Massachusetts, State Census, 1865," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MQH7-DL6 : accessed 22 May 2012), Peter M Peterson in household of Peter M Peterson, Boston, Ward 01, Suffolk, Massachusetts; citing Massachusetts State Census Records, FHL mocrofilm 954,374; Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.


 

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