Monday, November 12, 2012

Free Census Guide recently ran a promotion billing itself as the “Home of the U.S. Census, 1790-1940.” (See What do you think? Are they?

Along with this promotion Ancestry is offering a free seven page PDF census guide, “Follow Your Family Using Census Records.” I think the offer was to subscribers only, as it presupposes access to, but I think anyone can click the link and get the booklet.

The 1940 census is free for (I can’t remember how long) on, although you’ll need to sign up for a free account. indexes and images can be used for free at many libraries and at FamilySearch family history centers (FHCs).

All the census indexes are available for free on, with or without a free account. Images are another story. According to the website, images to U.S. censuses are available as indicated below.

Census Via link to a subscription Website At a FHC To members of a supporting organization* Free to everyone
United States Census, 1790 X X  
United States Census, 1800 X X  
United States Census, 1810 X X  
United States Census, 1820 X X  
United States Census, 1830 X X  
United States Census, 1840 X X  
United States Census, 1850       X
United States Census, 1860      
United States Census, 1870       X
United States Census, 1880 X X  
United States Census, 1890 X X  
United States Census, 1900       X
United States Census, 1910 X X  
United States Census, 1920 X X  
United States Census, 1930 X X  
United States Census, 1940       X

I have got to say I don’t understand. All the images were produced by FamilySearch. FamilySearch has the most awesome census indexing volunteers in all the world who could have chunked out free indexes to all the pre-1900 censuses in just a few months. (Actually, they did. They did the A key and the arbitration. Ancestry provided the B key.) Yet FamilySearch users can’t freely see many of FamilySearch’s own images.

Yup. really is “Home of the U.S. Census.”


* FamilySearch is fully supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


  1. From what I understand the 1860 and 1880 census images are the only ones not available on familysearch. They do not plan to change that, but the images are available to access via links for them through other websites.

  2. "Yet FamilySearch users can’t freely see many of FamilySearch’s own images."
    ...and why is that??? Why is Fold 3 holding the 1860 Census hostage?
    One can go to and find FREE census records. The only drawback is that you need 'exact spelling'.

  3. Census images from 1790 to 1930 are available for free at the Internet Archive...

    1940 census images are on World Vital Records, also for free. You must register to view them though...

  4. Commercial and organizational uses of public archival materials will continue to be debated, I believe. And as long as the agreements made aren't public, as for example, between FamilySearch and Ancestry, or between Ancestry and Library and Archives Canada, we are likely missing information we need to discuss the pros and cons.
    Thanks for mentioning the Ancestry census booklet, Insider. I am an subscriber but I don't think I got this notice. But then I'm not a USian (although Ancestry should know some of my relatives are).


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