Census Records

By Tamara Reeder Fisher

Census Records can provide a wealth of knowledge in the process of researching your family history. It's kind of like going back in time and taking a snapshot of a family. Although the information is not always accurate, depending on which year you are looking at you may be able to see all the people in a particular household, their ages, their birthdates, occupations and

relationships. The census is taken every ten years. After about 70 years the census is made available to the public for viewing at locations called National Archives, which are located in various parts of the United States. Alex Haley, author of Roots conceived his first ideas for that popular book and movie from a visit to the National Archives. The census started being

recorded in 1790. For African Americans, census information can be sketchy until 1870 because before slavery was abolished in 1865, only free blacks were included in the census by name. Slaves were recorded as property, listing only their gender and age. Also, census records from 1890 were mostly destroyed in a fire that occurred in 1921.