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New York State Census Records

Microfilms of the federal censuses for New York, 1790–1910, and corresponding book and microfilm indexes are available in several places throughout the state and country. There are three published indexes for the 1800 census. The 1850 index published by AISI covers only half of the towns for Westchester County, as the other half were indexed in error from the 1860 census. Some counties have "short form" copies of the 1880 census, which serve as complete indexes (by district) to that census (see the Douglas-Yates guide mentioned below). Within the state, the National Archives-Northeast Region has complete sets of these records, as does the New York Public Library, the New York State Library, and the Onondaga County Public Library. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has the census through 1920 for New York. Most of these collections include the 1910 street indexes to enumeration districts for the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Many libraries with genealogical collections have films of most or all the censuses for their particular county and often for surrounding counties. Several early New York censuses have been published, many in Tree Talks, some in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and in volumes by Ralph Van Wood for Cayuga, Herkimer, Oneida, and Ontario counties. Two enumerations were taken in New York City in 1870. Parts of the enumerations for the towns of Eastchester (Westchester County) and Brookhaven (Suffolk County) are among the few surviving schedules of the 1890 federal census. A Manhattan 1890 police census, available at the Municipal Archives, also fills part of the void of the destroyed federal census. Damaged and missing censuses include the following:

• 1810: Cortland and part of Broome County—missing
• 1860: Chenango and Columbia counties—damaged
• 1880: Suffolk County and New York City Wards 21 and 22—damaged

Of almost greater value in New York than the federal are the state censuses, taken every ten years from 1825 to 1875, in 1892, and again in 1905, 1915, and 1925 (pre-1825 state censuses and state copies of those for 1855–1905 were destroyed in the 1911 state library fire). Most of these censuses that have survived can be found with the county clerk, although some are with the county historian or in other locations. For a list of the whereabouts of these censuses, consult Marilyn Douglas and Melinda Yates, comps., New York State Census Records, 1790–1925, Bibliography Bulletin 88 (1981)of the New York State Library, though be wary of some errors and omissions. Films of many of the 1855, 1865, and 1875 censuses are at the The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and the New York Public Library has most films for 1855. The New York State Libraryhas microfilms of all the 1915 and 1925 censuses for the entire state and many of the earlier state censuses.

Indexes have been prepared for some of the state censuses; they are usually found with the county historian or at the county historical society. Some of these indexes are mentioned in the Douglas Yates guide; others are listed in David Paul Davenport's The State Censuses of New York, 1825–75, Genealogical Journal 14 (1985–86): 172–97. The Douglas-Yates guide also shows the existence of the county copies of the federal censuses available locally, which are useful for checking against the federal copies as filmed by the National Archives. The state copies of the census perished in the 1911 New York State Library fire.

The 1825, 1835, and 1845 state censuses are similar to pre-1850 federal censuses in that only the name of the head of the household is listed, although there is valuable information about the composition of the household, its agriculture and commerce, and so forth. Beginning in 1855, every person is listed, with his or her relationship to the head of the household, and, if a native New Yorker, the county of birth is shown. Years of residency in the town or city in which enumerated are also given, as is citizenship status for adult males. The 1865 census dropped the "years of residency" column but added ones for "parents of how many children" and "number of times married." It also listed active and veteran servicemen. Later state censuses provide similar information, although the schedules for 1892 listed only name, sex, color, age, country of birth, whether or not a U. S. citizen, and occupation. The date and court of naturalization for naturalized citizens was a feature of the 1925 census.

The surviving 1790 state census schedules for Albany County were compiled by Kenneth Scott in New York: State Census of Albany County Towns in 1790 (1975; reprint; Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 1991). In his work, Scott also compared these schedules with the 1790 federal census for Albany County.


New York Research Sources

Flick, Alexander C., ed. History of the State of New York. 10 vols. 1933–37. Reprint. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1962.
Schweitzer, George K. New York Genealogical Research. Knoxville, Tenn: the author, 1988.
Guide to Records in the New York State Archives. Albany: New York State Archives, 1981.
Guzik, Estelle M., ed. Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area. New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 1989.
Bailey, Rosalie Fellows. Guide to Genealogical and Biographical Sources for New York City (Manhattan) 1783–1898. New York: the author, 1954.

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