skip to content

Archives and ARC

Census Records

Research Forms

What Kind of Information Can I Find on a Census?

Information can include:

  • Head of household
  • Family members' names, ages, and relationship to the head of household
  • Occupations
  • Birthplaces
  • Whether they are U.S. citizens
  • Whether they own or rent their home
  • Much more - varies depending on year of census

How Do I Find My People on a Census?

Many censuses are now indexed, either online or in books. You can search census indexes by year (if you subscribe). The Cofrin Library subscribes to Ancestry Library edition, which is accessible from any Cofrin Library computer.

Even if you cannot locate your ancestor in an index, but you know what location they resided in during a certain time period, it is worth your while to search that town's entire census page-by-page to look for yourself. Handwriting is often misinterpreted when indexed, but you may recognize names yourself.

Census Holdings at Our Center

Federal 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890*, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940
State 1836, 1838, 1842, 1846, 1847, 1855, 1865**, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905
"Indian Census Rolls"

Menominee, Oneida, Stockbridge, and Munsee Tribes 1885-1942

Only people registered with the tribes were counted this way.


*Most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire. Only a portion for Wisconsin containing the Civil War veterans and their widows remains.

**Abstract only-does not list individual names of all people in the household, only number of males and females.

Is Everyone Listed on a Census?

No. The census taker may have missed people, or found no one at home after repeated attempts.

Is the Census Information Accurate?

Not always. The census taker reported the information that was given to him as best as he understood it. People did not have to provide proof of the accuracy of their statements, and language was often a barrier.

For example, John Doe could have answered yes to the census taker's question, "Are you a U.S. citizen?", when in truth he had not filed any of his papers.

did you know?

...census takers also counted people in jails, convents, orphanages, hospials, insane asylums, poorhouses, etc.

The Federal Census is confidential for 72 years!