Illinois, State Census, 1855 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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Access the records: Illinois State Census, 1855 .
The collection consists of name indexes for the Illinois State Census taken in 1855.
The information was handwritten on preprinted sheets. Schedules do not exist for the following counties:
- Jo Davies
Microfilm copies of original records are available at the Family History Library and at family history centers.
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.
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.
Reliability of the information in the census is determined by the accuracy of the knowledge of the informant, which could have been any member of the family or even a neighbor.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Illinois Secretary of State. Illinois State Census 1855. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
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
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the census index. Use the locator information in the index (such as page number or family number) to locate your ancestors in the census. Compare the information in the census to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
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.
- Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date.
- 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.
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.
Some other helpful tips to keep in mind are:
- 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.
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.