United States, Indian Census Rolls (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
United States, United States
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Record Description
Collection years
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in the Collection?

This collection consists of an index and images of census and other records created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The records are from the National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75. Census rolls were usually submitted annually by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations as required by an 1884 act of Congress. In some years, agents only compiled a summary of additions and deductions from the populations. In some years separate lists of births and deaths are included. The collection covers the years 1885 to 1940. Not all years are available for all tribes.

You will be able to browse through images in this collection when it is published.

Collection Content

Sample Images

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The record content varies by year, but the census records generally contain the following:

  • Indian name
  • English name
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Relationship
  • Tribe
  • Reservation.
  • Current year's roll number
  • Previous year's roll number
  • A few of the censuses show the names of persons who were born or died during the year, along with date of birth and death.

Beginning in 1929, the following was added:

  • An annuity or allotment number is included if the tribe receives an annuity or allotment

Beginning in 1930, the following was added:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • Degree of blood
  • Jurisdiction where enrolled
  • Name of the post office, county, and state
  • May list how many live or still births a woman had

Birth records list:

  • Census roll number (if born before the census was taken)
  • Full name
  • Birth date
  • If born live
  • Sex
  • Tribe
  • Degree of Indian blood
  • Parents degree of Indian blood
  • If living at jurisdiction where enrolled
  • If living at another jurisdiction and where
  • If living off reservation and where

Death records list:

  • Census roll year and number
  • Full name
  • Death date
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Tribe
  • Degree of Indian blood
  • Cause of death
  • If living at jurisdiction where enrolled
  • If living at another jurisdiction and where

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The full name of your ancestor.
  • The tribe to which your ancestor belonged.
  • The reservation where your ancestor lived.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page (Hyperlink to browse):
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "__________"
⇒ Select the "__________"
⇒ Select the "__________"
⇒ Select the "__________" category 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. 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.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, download a copy or transcribe the information. Carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the number from the last known census to locate the individual on the the previous year's census. This is especially helpful as their name may have changed.
  • Use the information found to search for the family in the federal censuses.
  • Start with the most recent census during your ancestor's life. Search every census year going backward until you reach 1885.
  • Some nations have gaps between the years when a census was taken.
  • Be aware that errors may have occurred as the agents did not usually know the individuals personally.
  • Lists of births and deaths may have been recorded in between census years.
  • When men had plural wives, the oldest wife was often listed first, with her unmarried children. The other wives and their children are listed in order of their ages.

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for another index. 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.

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:

“United States, Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940.” Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication 595. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Image citation:

The image citation will be available once the collection is published.

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.