UCB Libraries


Guide to Census Information

Manuscripts (Names) or Population Statistics (Federal, State)

CU-Boulder's Collection

+ History/Introduction

Federal and State Census Schedules and Federal and State population statistics are available at the Government Information Library, located on the 3rd Floor of Norlin Library. "Population schedules" (also known as manuscript censuses) contain the names of inhabitants of a geographic area along with their socio-demographic information. Indexes to the microfilm sources are available for selected years only. The printed sources do contain indexes in the back of the texts.


200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990 contains a brief history of the U.S. Census. In addition, it includes copies of the written instructions for census takers (marshals in the early years, enumerators after1880), sample copies of the forms (schedules) completed by census takers, and copies of questionnaires self-reported by respondents from 1960-1990. It also contains a table that lists the population schedules by state for the years 1790 to 1920. This table indicates whether or not a census was taken for a particular state, the appropriate National Archive microfilm number, and whether or not manuscript copies of a particular census are known to exist. The manuscript censuses contain information about named individuals. For example, although censuses were taken, there no known copies of manuscript censuses for some states in the years 1790,1800, 1810, 1820, and 1890. It also lists mortality schedules for the years 1850-1885 that include information about persons who had died in the year immediately preceding the enumeration.


Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 updates and expands 200 Years of U.S. Census Taking. It includes Census questionnaires and instructions from 1790 to 2000, information on the availability of population schedules and records, finding guides, state and territorial censuses, and mortality schedules. It also includes a general history of the decennial censuses as well as individual histories of each census.

+ Where to Find Additional Census Information

If you are interested in the names and personal details of inhabitants, we recommend that you visit the National Archives and Records Administration -- Rocky Mountain Region to use an index called Soundex. The Soundex indexes will help you find entries for individuals in the Census schedules. The NARA web site features the online Soundex Calculator: enter a surname to find the Soundex code for that name. The NARA Archival Research Catalog contains two search features. The archival holdings search finds descriptions of materials held at NARA. The database includes 124,000 digital copies of archival material. The microfilm search feature "allows you to search for [descriptions of ] microfilm publications ... via keywords, microfilm IDs, record group number, and/or NARA Viewing Location." Use this feature to determine if the nearest NARA regional office has a copy of the microfilm you need.


According to Geneology: Beginners Guide published by the Denver Public Library (DPL), that library owns some, but not all, of the U.S. census schedules available in microfilm.