Census Records for Colorado

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This entry was originally written by Birdie Monk Holsclaw and Marsha Hoffman Rising CG, FUGA, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Colorado Family History Research series.
History of Colorado
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Census Records for Colorado
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Colorado Land Records
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Colorado Court Records
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Colorado Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Colorado Archives, Libraries, and Societies
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Map of Colorado


Population Schedules

• Indexed'1860 (as various territories, see below), 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

• Soundex'1880, 1900, 1920

Mortality Schedules

• 1870, 1880

Industry and Agriculture Schedules

• 1870, 1880

The Colorado Historical Society has microfilmed copies of the Colorado decennial census with indexes for 1860, 1870, and 1880. Although it does not currently own the Soundex to the 1900 census, one is located at the National Archives'Rocky Mountain Region in Denver and the Norlin Library, University of Colorado. The Denver Public Library'Western History and Genealogy Department holds copies of almost all microfilm of Colorado population schedules (including 1860 Kansas and Nebraska territorial schedules, which include parts of Colorado), as well as printed indexes and microfilmed Soundex. The Colorado State Archives has the 1860 censuses on microfilm for Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Kansas that cover the present geographic boundaries of Colorado. No survey of available state copies of the federal censuses exists; however, Clear Creek County holds their census records for 1880, and other copies may exist. Norlin Library at University of Colorado at Boulder (see Colorado Archives, Libraries, and Societies) maintains microfilm copies of Colorado population schedules (including Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah territorial schedules), as well as most related Soundexes.

Microfilmed copies of the 1870 and 1880 mortality schedules are located at the National Archives'Rocky Mountain Region and the Denver Public Library. A printed index has been compiled. The original schedules are housed with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Washington, D.C. A printed index has been compiled, and is also available online at www.ancestry.com.

Territorial and State

The first census in what would become Colorado was taken in 1860 as part of several territorial censuses. Arapahoe County, which covered the central eastern section, was included in the Kansas territorial census for that year. The areas of Boulder City, Altoona City, Boulder Creek Settlement, Gold Hill Settlement, Miraville City, and the Platte River Settlement were enumerated with Nebraska Territory, and are transcribed online by Ted and Carol Miller at www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/ne/state/1860cens.htm#colorado60. Denver City was enumerated partly with Nebraska and partly with the Kansas territorial census. The southeast portion of Colorado was enumerated in parts of Taos and Mora counties of New Mexico Territory. Leadville, although a booming mining town at the time and located in what is now Lake County, was in Utah Territory and not enumerated.

The Colorado Territory was organized in 1861, and voters residing in the territory were listed at that time. The original poll books (which list only males) remain in the Colorado State Archives and have been microfilmed. An index by the Colorado Genealogical Society Computer Interest Group has been printed, and is also available online at www.denver.lib.co.us/research/genealogy/election.html.

An 1866 enumeration was taken, but the only extant returns are for the northeastern section which included the counties of Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Weld, and parts of Washington and Yuma. Heads of household with number of males over and under twenty-one and females over and under eighteen are included in a document available at the Colorado State Archives.

The microfilmed copy of the 1885 special federal census, encompassing population, agricultural, manufacturing, and mortality returns is located at the Colorado State Archives, the National Archives'Rocky Mountain Region in Denver, Colorado Historical Society, the Denver Public Library, and FHL. Most of this census is indexed at www.ancestry.com and can be searched at Colorado State Census, 1885. An excellent index to the large Arapahoe County portion (now Arapahoe, Denver and parts of Adams, Washington, and Yuma counties) has been compiled by the Colorado Genealogical Society. Several other counties have been indexed by various local societies. Some counties have abridged copies that arranged residents alphabetically, so that they appear to be indexes. However, researchers should be aware this 'index' does not refer the reader to the page number of the original census and is an incomplete extraction with only partial data from the census. For complete information, the researcher will need to use the original and not the county copy.

External Links

  • Colorado Census Records - free up-to-date guide to accessing Colorado census records. Identifies federal, state, and territorial censuses, as well as substitute records (FamilySearch Research Wiki).