Question: Which U.S. decennial census is your favorite and why?

On April 2, 2012, the Federal Census Bureau will be releasing the 1940 Census for public access.  For many genealogists and researchers, the release of this census will open new insights into pre-war America, as well as provide opportunities for genealogists and family historians to continue their research into this most recent decade.  Like all previous censuses, the 1940 census will be available in all NARA facilities, this time in digital format (not just microfilm).

In light of this anticipated release (some genealogy blogs and sites have countdowns already!), NARA wants to know which census is your favorite.  Is it the very first census from 1790?  Or maybe you’ve had a lot of luck with a later census?  Tell us which census is your favorite, and why you find it so rewarding!

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13 Responses to Question: Which U.S. decennial census is your favorite and why?

  1. Yvette says:

    My favorite is the 1900 census, because it not only includes the birth year but also the month. Often this information is just what I need to make a positive identification between an emigrant from the Netherlands and an immigrant in the US.


  2. David Oseas says:

    The 1930 census, since it contains the most information. Also, more of my family members are in that census than any other 🙂


  3. RickK says:

    1900 because it asked the birth month and year.


  4. Michael Hait says:

    Being heavily focused on African-American genealogy, I would have to say that the 1870 census was my favorite. I summed up the importance of this census in an article I wrote last fall:


  5. Mari says:

    1880 because street addresses are included. Great for urban studies.


  6. I agree 1930 was the best. It was a tumultuous economic time in American history so it is interesting to time to study our population.


  7. 1880 here as well. Street address was extremely helpful


  8. Angela McGhie says:

    My favorite is the 1900 census for month and year of birth, but I do find all of the census records useful in my research.


  9. Mary (admin) says:

    Thanks for sharing your favorites! We always appreciate learning what our researchers like about our records.


  10. Jude says:

    1860, for no good reason. But the one I really wish existed is 1890.


  11. Debbie says:

    My fav is the 1900. Besides the birth month and year of each person, it gives marriage date.


  12. lasik San Diego says:

    I still like the 1900 census the best. I found it the most useful.


  13. Teri Pettit says:

    I agree that the 1900 census is valuable for the months of birth as well as the number of years married, although I’ve discovered that some census takers appear to have completely fabricated that data. (It will have no greater than chance correlation with other records that include the month such as birth registers or gravestones.)

    The happier flip side of that is discovering forms where the enumerator went “above and beyond” the requirements and entered extra data such as the county of birth (instead of just the state).

    Street addresses aren’t of any particular help to me since all of the people I research lived in rural areas that had no named streets, although I can certainly appreciate the fact that researchers with urban ancestry find the addresses valuable.


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