Iowa State Census, 1885 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Iowa, State Census, 1885 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Iowa, United States
Iowa flag.png
Flag of Iowa
US Locator Iowa.png
Location of Iowa
Record Description
Record Type State Census
Collection years 1885
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index of the Iowa state census taken in 1885. The population schedule names every person in the household.

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

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The 1885 census contains the following biographical information:

  • Name of every person who resided in the family
  • Address
  • Age at birthday in 1884
  • Marital status
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Place of birth (if in Iowa, the county of birth, if not state or country)
  • Parentage (if native or foreign) of father and mother
  • Whether subject to military duty
  • Whether entitled to vote
  • If an alien whether or not have taken out naturalization papers
  • Whether literate or not
  • Any disabilities
  • Occupation

Iowa became a territory in 1838 and a state in 1846. The state of Iowa conducted statewide censuses in the following years; 1847, 1849, 1854, 1856, 1859, 1862, 1865, 1867, 1869, 1873, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, and 1925.

Some townships are missing in the 1885 census.

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know

  • Your ancestor's name
  • Other identifying information such as age or parents' names.

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 "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select "County"
⇒Select "Locality" 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.
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as 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 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.

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • 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 that may be your ancestor.
  • Find them on the 1880 census and jot down their neighbors or print off the census sheet. On the 1885 census, search for the neighbors, adjusting their ages to what they should be in 1885. Search for your family a page or two each way of where the neighbors are located.
  • 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

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

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 support@familysearch.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.

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:

"Iowa State Census, 1885." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016.Citing Secretary of State. State Historical Society, Des Moines.

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 Iowa, 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 Iowa, State Census, 1885.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.