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Find the Parents and Siblings of Your Ancestor in the United States Census, 1850-1940

Census indexes can help you locate your ancestors. People were listed in national, state and territorial census records. The national census was done every ten years. Other censuses were often done five years after the national census. Most census records are available online.

Step 1. Search for your ancestor in a census record

Search in the United States Census collection at: www.FamilySearch.org (free).

- Use the ancestor's name, birth year and birth place for a successful search.

Tips for success:

  • Always look at the original record, not just the index or transcript.
  • Find your ancestor in each available census.
  • If you don't find the person in the census nearest their birth try one near their marriage or death.
  • If you only have initials for one parent's given name try searching by the other parent's given name.


- Click on the links below to search the record group:

1850 U.S. Census                            1900 U.S. Census 


1860 U.S. Census                            1910 U.S. Census


1870 U.S. Census                            1920 U.S. Census


1880 U.S. Census                            1930 U.S. Census


                                                              1940 U.S. Census


Step 2. Verify the census information with a comparison of another census year's information.

Find your ancestor in each consecutive census.

Find your ancestor's parents in each consecutive census to compare their information and that of their children. This will verify you are tracing the correct family of your ancestor. 


Step 3. Compare what you found with information in FamilySearch Family Tree

Search for the new names found in other records
Check for and merge any duplicates found
Connect any individuals or families to your family