Colorado State Census, 1885 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Colorado State Census, 1885 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Colorado, United States
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Flag of the United States of America
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Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Census
Collection years 1885
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of a name index and images of population schedules listing the inhabitants of the state of Colorado. The 1885 census was taken with the assistance of the United States Government. The records are handwritten on pre-printed pages with rows and columns. Not all counties are available.

The counties included are: Araphoe, Archuleta, Bent Boulder, Chaffee, Clear Creek, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Elbert, El Paso, Gilpin, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, La Plata, Larimer, Las Amimas, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Park, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel, Summit, Weld.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Colorado State Census, 1885.

Collection Content

Sample Image

On June 1, 1885 a special federal census of Colorado was taken. The 1885 census included four general schedules: population, agriculture, manufactures, and mortality. These schedules are organized alphabetically by county and then by the number assigned to each type of schedule. Within each type of schedule the records are arranged by enumeration district.

The census was compiled to obtain a count of the population of the state to determine how many representatives the state would send to Congress.

The information is generally reliable. However use the information with some caution, since the 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.

The 1885 population schedule resembles a typical census schedule and can provide valuable information that can be used to fill the gap caused by the loss of the 1890 federal census in the 1921 Department of Commerce fire.

The 1885 mortality schedule enumerated all individuals who died between June 1, 1884, and May 31, 1885. This schedule was to include individuals who died within the district, even if they had no family in the district, and individuals who died outside the district but had family within the district.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use Census Records

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The following information is listed in the population schedule:

  • Street name
  • House number
  • Full name of each member of household
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Relationship to the head of household
  • Marital Status
  • Profession or occupation
  • Disabilities
  • If attended school within the past year
  • If person can read, write, and speak English
  • Person's place of birth
  • Father's birth place
  • Mother's birth place

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you need to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The age of your ancestor
  • The names of other members of the household


Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on 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. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County"
⇒Select the "Town or Enumeration District Number"
⇒Select the "Schedule" which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search 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.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

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.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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.
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
  • 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.”
  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • 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.
  • You should also be aware that the census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Look for a different index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the records of nearby localities.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Colorado State Census, 1885." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M158. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Colorado State Census, 1885.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Colorado State Census, 1885.

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