New Jersey, State Census, 1885 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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New Jersey, State Census, 1885 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
New Jersey, United States
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Flag of New Jersey
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Location of New Jersey
Record Description
Record Type State Census
Collection years 1885
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

This collection is an index of the New Jersey state census in 1885. The census is a printed form that was filled in by hand by the enumerator. It is arranged by county and by township within each county.

Some records may be missing, including Jersey City (Hudson County) records from Family History Library film numbers 888618, 888619, 888620, 888621 and 888622.

The state of New Jersey took a state census every 10 years beginning in 1855 and continuing through 1915. The 1885 census is the first to survive in its entirety. The census was compiled to obtain a count of the population 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.

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Why This Census is Important:

The 1890 U.S. Federal Census was damaged and destroyed by fire in 1921. Less than 1 percent of the schedules are available for research today. Because of this problem, the 1885 New Jersey State Census is a highly valuable source as it provides information that would otherwise may be found in the Federal Census.

The 1885 New Jersey State Census generally includes the following:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Residence
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Native or foreign born
  • Age range

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age of your ancestor
  • The place where your ancestor lived
  • The names of other family members and their relationships

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 the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

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. Print or download a copy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the place of residence to search other records such as federal censuses, church and land records.
  • 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 foreign born, look for immigration and naturalization records.
  • 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.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for a different index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • 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.
  • 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)

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:

"New Jersey, State Census, 1885." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Department of State, Trenton.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for New Jersey, State Census, 1885.

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