Wisconsin, State Census, 1855 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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



What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of the Wisconsin state population census taken in 1855. This census only identifies the head of family by name. The rest of the census is statistical.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Wisconsin State Census, 1855.

Collection Content

Sample Image

Population schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules are arranged by county, then by political subdivision. The arrangement of families on a schedule is normally in the order in which the enumerator visited the households.

In 1855 the state legislature directed that a census be taken in June of that year and every 10 years thereafter. The completed forms were sent to the Secretary of State. The census covers approximately 90% of the population.

Wisconsin census were conducted from 1855-1905. This information pertains to censuses taken in the year 1855.

The state census of Wisconsin was taken in order to enumerate the population for representation purposes

Censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. 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.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Wisconsin state censuses for the year 1855 include:

  • Name of head of family
  • Number of white males and white females in each household
  • Number of colored males and colored females in each household
  • Number of individuals who are deaf and dumb, blind, or insane
  • Number of individuals who are foreign born

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • Identifying information such as where they lived

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 the appropriate "County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Township/City/Town/Village/Ward" which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.

Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

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?

  • 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.
  • The census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.

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 a different index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby states.
  • 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.

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 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:

"Wisconsin State Census, 1855" Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Department of State. Historical Society, Madison.

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 Wisconsin State Census, 1855.

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 Wisconsin State Census, 1855.


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