Friday, June 27, 2008

Family History Friday: 1880 Census

Federal Census Records hold a wealth of information and give a great peek at a family in 10 year intervals. Federal Census Records are available from 1930 back every ten years with the exception of 1890 which was destroyed by fire. The further back you go, the less information you will find until eventually all you are getting is the name of the head of household and tally marks.

All of the census's are available online for searching but require a membership to do so. The two biggest places I do census searches are and Heritage Quest. As mentioned last week, Ancestry is a paid membership whereas with Heritage Quest you can get access through the BYU library with your student/alumni log in (I imagine there are other ways to get in though this is the only way I know. Heritage Quest not only does census's, it has a large collection of family and local histories with original images online).

The 1880 census is an exception. It is available for FREE through Ancestry and also through

What will you find in the 1880 Federal Census Records?
You will find full names of all people living in the household, their relationship to the head of household, their marital status, race, age, birthplace, occupation, father's birthplace, mother's birthplace, who their neighbors were (this is useful for establishing family relationships) and more.

Because the 1880 is free on Ancestry you should be able to follow the following links (that is if you are interested) and view the actual census records online. It is helpful to zoom in once or twice (150%) in order to be able to read the names. The names will appear in list form down the left side. Sometimes the surname comes first, sometimes it does not, depends on the census.

My ancestors in the 1880 census:

Charles Everette Condon with parents Jacob and Sarah Condon

William and Sarah Garvin with two of their children

William Wesley and Isadora Alderson with child and Mother-in-law Sarah Winders

If you have your own name you want to search, follow the links above. Type in as much information as you have, if nothing comes up take out some of the information and try again. I've also found many times that my ancestors have given their nicknames to the census taker and that the ages are often incorrect.

1930 Census of Arthur T. Daniels and family

I've mentioned before that I am trying to find all of my ancestors in as many census's as possible. I have a few that are still proving elusive but have found a majority of my ancestors in the census records throughout their lives. It has been very interesting to see where they have moved (which proves very helpful when looking for other records) and what occupations they have held as well as what children were living in the house and when. Census records are an easy door for opening up other research possibilities. I'm excited about the many leads I have found. There's always something more to do.

Have you done any tree climbing lately (that is family tree climbing)? I would love to hear what you are doing and/or if you've found anything in the 1880 census etc.

Happy climbing!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Apparently you have to sign up for a free account at in order to view the free records.