This research guide contains a sample of the Newberry’s resources on this topic. Consult a reference librarian or the online catalog for more details.
A list of the Newberry’s census holdings is available online or at the 2nd floor reference desk.
Many census indexes are available in print and on CD. Search the online catalog by the name of the county and town. Search the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to see if any indexes were published in journals. Some census items (indexes, schedules, transcriptions) may be
available through the Family History Library.
Guides and Bibliographies
Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. Ed. Alice Eichholz. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992. Local History Ref CS 49.A55 1992 (2nd floor open shelf).
Bureau of the Census Catalog of Publications. Washington, DC: GPO, 1974. Call No. Ref Z 7554.U5 U58 1974 (3rd floor open shelf). Lists census publications by year, and offers brief descriptive information. Check online catalog for specific holdings.
Directory of Census Information Sources. Ed. J. Konrad. Munroe Falls, OH: Summit Pub., 1984. Call No. folio HA 214. K66 1984.
Dollarhide, William. The Census Book: A Genealogist’s Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes. Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1999. Call No. folio HA 214. D63 1999.
Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Ed. Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000. Call No. Local History Ref Z 5313.U5 U54 2000 (2nd floor open shelf). See
Section A, Chapter 1 (starting on page 15). Also see the Census Resources and Links page on the National Archives website.
Greenwood, Val. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2000. Call No. Local History Ref CS 47.G73 2000 (2nd floor open shelf). See Chapters 13 and 14 (pages 233-307).
Hinkley, Kathleen. Your Guide to the Federal Census
for genealogists, researchers and family historians.
Cincinnati Betterway Books, 2002. Call No. Local
History Ref HA 37 .U6 H556 2002 (2nd floor open
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series
Documentation. Minneapolis: Minnesota Population
Center. This Web site contains a wealth of historical
information about the process of census taking.
Kemp, Thomas Jay. The American Census
Handbook. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources,
2001. Call No. Local History Ref CS 49.K4 2001(2nd
floor open shelf).
The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy.
Ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves
Luebking. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997. Call No.
Local History Ref CS 49.S9 2006 (2nd floor open shelf).
A list of the Newberry’s state census holdings is
available at the 2nd floor reference desk and at:
For a list of digitized state censuses, see:
Dubester, Henry J. State Censuses: An Annotated
Bibliography of Censuses Of Population Taken After
the Year 1790 by States and Territories of the United
States. New York: Burt Franklin, 1969. Call No. Local
History Ref Z 7554.U5 U63 1969 (2nd floor open shelf).
Lainhart, Ann S. State Census Records. Baltimore:
Genealogical Pub. Co., 1992. Call No. Local History
Ref Z 5313.U5 L37 1992 (2nd floor open shelf).
The Newberry has Chicago census maps for 1870, 1880,
1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. Chicago enumeration
district descriptions for 1920 and 1930 are also available
on microfilm. An online resource for Chicago is at:
For an explanation of online maps for 1940, see the
National Archives website at:
For various online census tools, see Stephen Morse’s
One-Step Webpages: http://stevemorse.org/
The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton, Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 255-3512 http://www.newberry.org
Prechtel-Kluskens, Claire. Index to selected city streets
and enumeration districts, 1930 census. Washington,
D.C. National Archives and Records Administration,
2001. Call No. Local History Ref Microfilm 1232 (2nd
floor open shelf).
Thorndale, William. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal
Censuses, 1790-1920. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub.
Co., 1987. Call No. Local History Ref G 1201.F7 T5
1987 (2nd floor open shelf).
Federal Population Census Catalogs for 1790-1890,
1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 are available at the 2nd floor
Blake, Kellee. “First in the Path of the Firemen: The
Fate of the 1890 Population Census.” Prologue:
Quarterly of the National Archives. 28.1 (Spring
1996): 64-81. Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date).
Also available online at:
Blake, Kellee. “The Fourteenth Numbering of the
People: The 1920 Federal Census.” Prologue:
Quarterly of the National Archives. 23.2 (Summer
1991): 131-143. Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date).
Hatten, Ruth Land. “The Forgotten Census of 1880:
Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes.”
National Genealogical Society Quarterly. 80.1
(March 1992): 57-70. Call No. CS 42.N4 (2nd floor open
Potter, Constance. “Preparing for the 1930 Census.”
Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 34.1
(Spring 2002). Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date).
Also available online at:
Potter, Constance. “New Questions in the 1940
Census.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National
Archives. 42.4 (Winter 2010). Call No. CD 3020 .P76
(specify date). Also available online at:
Prechtel-Kluskens, Claire. “The WPA Census
Soundexing Projects.” Prologue: Quarterly of the
National Archives. 34.1 (Spring 2002). Call No. CD
3020 .P76 (specify date). Also available online at:
STATISTICAL ABSTRACTS OF CENSUS DATA
While genealogists are most interested in the raw data
recorded in population schedules, other historians rely
on the compiled statistics from the census to describe
changes in the nation’s demographics over time. The
government publishes census data in printed reports, and
The Newberry Library has copies of the printed census
reports for the years 1790-1900.
The Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/ offers tools
for analyzing data from the most recent census and online
access to statistical reports of the census. Selected
Historical Decennial Census Population and Housing
Counts contain a variety of analyses of historical data
from the census schedules of 1790-2000. Copies of the
printed reports of the census in PDF format are available
University of Virginia Geospatial and Statistical Data
Center. United States Historical Census Data Browser
(http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/). This database allows
users to analyze and compile census data from 1790-
1960. It also contains a page of historical background on
the U.S. census.
In each census from 1850-1930, the census bureau
issued written instructions to individuals hired to take
the census. These instructions help explain the
sometimes mysterious data recorded on the schedules.
U.S. Census Office. 12th Census, 1900…Instructions
To Enumerators. Call# Govt I 13:7:7-653.
Enumerator Instructions: 1850-2000. Part of the
Integrated Public Use Microdata website from the
Minnesota Population Center at the University of
Call our reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or contact a librarian with research questions.