As the reforms of King Charles III extended into the administration of the Spanish colonies, the Council of Indies initiated a series of empire-wide census projects. Previously, some governors in specific colonies and even local officials had censuses prepared, resulting in numerous censuses available for the Spanish colonial areas. Latin American Census Records by Lyman D. Platt identifies by specific locality the vast majority of those available.<ref>Lyman D. Platt, Latin American Census Records (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998).</ref>
Spanish censuses are considerably better in detail than their English-language counterparts, normally identifying the head of household by name and surname with occupation and material status and age, and then providing for the household a list of all other members by name, frequently with ages and relationships to the head of household. Some censuses were taken to enumerate specific categories of individuals, such as all resident aliens. Figure 16-3 is a page from the abstract of such a census, that of St. Augustine, Florida, 1786, appearing in Floridas' First Families: Translated Abstracts of Pre-1821 Spanish Censuses, by Donna Rachal Mills. For a detailed discussion of the content and use of censuses in Hispanic research, see Finding Your Hispanic Roots.