Illinois, State Census, 1855 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Illinois State Census, 1855 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Illinois, United States
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Flag of Illinois
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Location of Illinois
Record Description
Record Type State Census
Collection years 1855
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of name indexes for the Illinois State Census. This census counted and gathered information about the population in 1855. The census was compiled to obtain a count of the population to determine how many representatives the state would send to Congress. The state constitution of 1848 accepted the federal decennial censuses as the basis for apportionment of representatives, but also provided for state censuses at mid-decades. As a result state censuses were conducted in 1855 and 1865. The state constitution of 1870 ended the practice of state censuses. Census returns for 1855 exist for 90 of the 100 counties. The information was handwritten on preprinted sheets. Schedules do not exist for the following counties:

  • Carroll
  • Champaign
  • Franklin
  • Gallatin
  • Henry
  • Jefferson
  • Jo Daviess
  • Lake
  • Stark
  • Will
  • Woodford

Jo Daviess County returns for the 1855 are found in the Ancestry "Illinois, State Census Collection, 1825-1865". Microfilm copies of original records are available at the Family History Library and at family history centers.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. These images can be viewed by members of the supporting organization at Family History Library or a family history center near you.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.


What Can these Records Tell Me?

The census includes the following information:

  • Name of head of family
  • Free white males by decennial age ranges; under 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 30, 30 to 40, etc.
  • Free white females by decennial age ranges; under 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 30, 30 to 40, etc.
  • Numbers of male and female Negros and mulattoes
  • Total number in household
  • Number of males eligible for duty in the militia
  • Manufactories by type (for example: mill, tin shop, saddle shop) and their value
  • Value of products of coal mines
  • Value of live stock
  • Number of pounds of wool
  • Number of colleges
  • Number of students
  • Number of common schools
  • Number of students
  • Remarks

How Do I Search the Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • At least one other piece of information

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select County
  2. Select Locality

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


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

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date and find a birth record.
  • Use the ages and place of residence to locate the family in federal census records.
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau.
  • If they are in the militia they may have military files in the State or National Archives.
  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

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

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name, especially French or Latin versions.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Pennsylvania, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Illinois Archives and Libraries.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Catalog


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:

"Illinois State Census, 1855." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Secretary of State. State Archives, Springville.


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 Illinois State Census, 1855.


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 Illinois State Census, 1855.


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