Using Census Data for Genealogical Research
If you're hoping to find the branches and roots of your family tree, the National Archives can prove to be a remarkable resource. The National Archives, responsible for keeping records of federal documents, are open and publically available for citizens to access and view.
Starting Your Broad Genealogical Research
If you're hoping to find a comprehensive history of your family background, then there are helpful steps that can be made to make your research more efficient. Before you officially begin your quest for genealogical information, it is ideal to conduct a bit of background hunting. Specifically, the National Archives suggests that individuals engage in comprehensive research methods, such as:
- Gather and compile information about one's family, beginning with one's immediate family, followed by grandparents and other relatives.
- Inquire about one's family history by asking relatives pertinent questions.
- Find out if any family members have their own saved documented, records, or artifacts that may prove to be useful in one's research.
- Examine family journals, photo albums, and other archived information to identify more potential clues and insights to one's family history.
- Evaluate records of birth, deaths, marriages, and other public histories (accessible through non-federal offices and sources).
Utilizing the National Archives' Census Data for Genealogical Research
Even if you do not have extensive information, your genealogical research endeavors will be much more effective if you minimally have the following information:
- Legal / documented names of family members (including ancestors, spouses, grandparents, siblings, and so forth)
- Dates of birth of ancestors (approximated dates are acceptable)
- If applicable, dates of deaths of ancestors (approximated dates are acceptable)
- If applicable, dates of any marriage, divorce, and / or military service
- Locations of primary residences. Specifically, the country / town / state / province / region where an ancestor was born and / or died
Census Data Commonly Used for Genealogical Research
For individuals who want to learn more about their family history and background, the National Archives is an excellent resource. Citizens, whether they are casual inquirers or intent historians, typically utilize the following records to gain more information about genealogy and family history:
- Federal population records / census data (specific years can be accessed and viewed)
- Military service and pension records
- Immigration records
- Land records
- Naturalization records
To investigate these or other related records, citizens can simply search for information via the federal government's National Archives website, while genealogical information can specifically be found at archives.gov/genealogy. Generally, most of the nation's census data can be accessed for free online; however, some records are only available via microfilm.
National census records have been taken and recorded once every ten years, from 1790 to the present. In addition to online inquiries, individuals can also visit the National Archives office, as well as state libraries and other regional National Archives locations across the nation.