US Sensus

Censuses / Great Registers


The United States Census has been conducted decennially (every ten years) since 1790. It is of first importance as a tool for studying American history, genealogy, and social trends. All are available for research, excepting the 1890 census and all conducted since 1930. Tragically, most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire at the U.S. Commerce Department on January 10, 1921, though a few fragments of it survive. The remainder of the censuses are not open to the public until 72 years have passed.

U.S. Census: California

The Room has a thorough set of all U.S. Censuses for California, since attainment of statehood (1850) up to 1930. Also, indexes for the California census are available for the 1850-1880 period.

U.S. Census: other states

Census indexes for most of the states, up to 1850, are available in CD-ROM format in the Room. Also available in CD format are the 1880 U.S. Census (fully indexed, but lacking some of the data columns); and the 1881 census of Great Britain.

U.S. Census records on Ancestry Library Edition

For those interested in searchable census databases on the World Wide Web (containing both images of the census returns and indexes for them), perhaps the best is Ancestry Library Edition. One of its special features, as yet incomplete but regularly augmented, is a reconstruction of the mostly-lost 1890 U.S. Census. Fresno County Public Library cardholders can access Ancestry Library Edition for free at Library Internet terminals.

Other notable census data sites include Census Finder, Census Online, Census Links, and USGenWeb.

Great Registers  

Until the advent of computer technology, many counties published a "Great Register" of citizens eligible to vote.

The Room holds the 1867-1944 Fresno County great registers in microfilm format. It also has the 1890 California statewide great register index (compiled as a substitute for the missing 1890 census) and the 1890 San Francisco great register index.