Census Records for New York

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the New York Family History Research series.
History of New York
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Census Records for New York
Background Sources for New York
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Population Schedules

• Indexed'1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

• Soundex'1880, 1900, 1920

Industrial and Agricultural Schedules

• 1820 (industrial only), 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

• 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Union Veterans Schedules

• 1890 (indexed)

Microfilms of the federal censuses for New York, 1790 to 1930, and corresponding book and microfilm indexes are available in several places throughout the state and country. There are three published indexes for the 1800 census. The 1850 index published by AISI covers only half of the towns for Westchester County, as the other half were indexed in error from the 1860 census (see David L. Kent and John C. Baskin, Westchester County, New York, the Index to That Half of Westchester County Omitted from the Accelerated Indexing Systems Index to the 1850 Federal Census of New York [Austin, Tex.: the authors, 1993]). Some counties have their 'short form' copies of the 1880 census, which serve as complete indexes (by district) to that census (see the Douglas-Yates guide mentioned below). Within the state, the National Archives'Northeast Region has complete sets of these records as do the New York Public Library, the New York State Library, and the Onondaga County Public Library (see New York Archives, Libraries, and Societies). The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has the census through 1920 for New York. Most of these collections include the 1910 street indexes to enumeration districts for the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Many libraries with genealogical collections have microfilms of most or all the censuses for their particular county and often for surrounding counties. Several early New York censuses have been published, many in Tree Talks, some in The NYG&B, and in the volumes by Ralph Van Wood for Cayuga, Herkimer, Oneida, and Ontario counties. Two enumerations were taken in New York City in 1870. Parts of the enumerations for the towns of Eastchester (Westchester County) and Brookhaven (Suffolk County) are among the few surviving schedules of the 1890 federal census. A recount of the 1890 enumeration for New York City (Manhattan and West Bronx), called the 'Police Census' (since it was taken by the city police)'which is available at the Municipal Archives, The New York Public Library, and The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society'fills part of the void of the destroyed federal census. Damaged and missing censuses include the following:

1810: Cortland and part of Broome County'missing

1860: Chenango and Columbia counties'damaged

1880: Suffolk County and New York City Wards 21 and 22'damaged

The corresponding federal mortality, agricultural, industry/manufacturing, and other schedules are available at the state library, and microfilms of these records are also at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the Queensborough Library in Jamaica, Long Island.

Colonial and State

Some important censuses were taken in colonial New York, some of which have been extracted and published (see Background Sources). Others have been published in journals such as The NYG&B and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Of almost greater value in New York than the federal are the state censuses, taken every ten years from 1825 to 1875, in 1892, and again in 1905, 1915, and 1925; pre-1825 state censuses and state copies of those for 1855 to 1905 were destroyed in the 1911 state library fire. Most of the censuses that have survived can be found with the county clerk, although some are with the county historian or in other locations. For a list of the whereabouts of these censuses, consult Marilyn Douglas and Melinda Yates, comps., New York State Census Records, 1790'1925, Bibliography Bulletin 88 of the New York State Library (Albany, N.Y.: 1981), which has some errors and omissions. (See their web page showing their availability of NYS census by county: [1]) The state library and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society have microfilms of almost all the surviving state censuses. The New York Public Library has most microfilms for 1855 and for almost all of the surviving state censuses for the New York City and Long Island counties and Westchester County. Some NYS censuses are also available at the LDS Family History Centers[2] around the world. Check their catalog at the NYS county level.

Indexes have been prepared for some of the state censuses and are usually found with the county historian or at the county historical society. Some of these indexes are mentioned in the Douglas-Yates guide; others are listed in David Paul Davenport's 'The State Censuses of New York, 1825'75,' Genealogical Journal 14 (1985'86): 172-97 and in Laura LeBarron, 'Finding Aids at The NYG&B Library for New York State Censuses,' The NYG&B Newsletter 8 (1997): 11-13, 19-21.

The Douglas-Yates guide also shows the existence of the county copies of the federal censuses available locally, which are useful for checking against the federal copies as microfilmed by the National Archives. The state copies of the federal census perished in the 1911 New York State Library fire.

The 1825, 1835, and 1845 state censuses are similar to pre-1850 federal censuses in that only the name of the head of the household is listed, although there is valuable information about the composition of the household, its agriculture and commerce, and so forth. Beginning in 1855, every person is listed, with his or her relationship to the head of the household, and, if a native New Yorker, the county of birth is shown. Years of residency in the town or city in which enumerated are also given, as is citizenship status for adult males. The 1865 census dropped the years' residency column but added ones for parents of how many children and number of times married. It also listed active and veteran servicemen. Later state censuses provide similar information, although the schedules for 1892 listed only name, sex, color, age, country of birth, whether or not a U.S. citizen, and occupation. The date and court of naturalization for naturalized citizens was a feature of the 1925 census. For more details, consult the Douglas-Yates guide.

The surviving 1790 state census schedules for Albany County were compiled by Kenneth Scott in New York: State Census of Albany County Towns in 1790 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975; reprint, Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 1991). In his work, Scott also compared these schedules with the 1790 federal census for Albany County.

At one time, the state library had some original census records, but these have all been returned to their original jurisdictions. For example, the schedules for Albany County are now in the County Hall of Records, 250 South Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12202.

External Links

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