Census records give a snapshot of who your ancestors were and how your ancestor lived. Census records are a government sponsored enumeration or counting of the population of a given area. These records will contain names of the heads of household or often all household members, their ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background. Some census records will state the religion of the individual and may also list their country of origin. In some countries a census will also contain agricultural records, so if your ancestor was a farmer it may list the type and number of farm animals as well as the type and number of bushels of crops produced on their farm during the year.
There are a vast number of online records available from around the world. Many are free, some offer free searches with the option to pay a small fee to view and download the original record. If you are confident that the person in the record is your ancestor, it may be worth the small fee to see the entire record. It will certainly cost less than a trip back to your ancestor’s homeland! Regardless of whether you choose the free census websites, or choose the pay-per-download, you can still gather a wealth of information from around the world with the records available today online.
Shown, in the images above this article are partial census listings from the 1940 U.S. census. In the first image is Mary Rutherford, my great-grandmother, born in 1853, age 87 in 1940 living in Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, New York. Mary’s listing was at the bottom of the page. At the top of the next page, the next image above shows her youngest daughter, Nellie Rutherford, age 42, born 1898, and on the line below Avis Exelby, age 21, their servant.
I invite you to click on the ‘Comment’ field at the end of the article and share your successes and online census records not listed that you have found helpful.
As always, good luck with your search!
This 1901 Census of Canada features over 5,000,000 lines transcribed by volunteers.
This contains an index to every name in the 1901 Census of Canada including personal data , links to images of the original census pages, and other links including census records from other years, birth, marriage, death, and other related records.
1911 Census of Canada
Includes over 7,000,000 lines transcribed of every member of the household with links to images of original records.
U.S. searchable census records – 1790-1940
U.S. census tips and records:
Online, searchable – 1940 Census U.S
African Americans census tips and records:
Native Americans census tips and records:
Another excellent Irish database website, however there are fees to view records: https://rootsireland.ie/
England and Wales 1841 – 1911
For more Genealogy tips and tricks: