Friday, February 16, 2007

New York State Census; 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925.

There were New York State censuses taken as well as federal census. So why can’t I get the films on inter-library loan (ILL) from the NYS Library?

Well here is the answer as I have interpreted it.

There either “might” have been duplicate copies of the NYS census of 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925, or only single copies, but as I understand it those that were being held in the State’s possession in Albany were all destroyed in the NYS Library fire of 1911.

So, where are the ones that remain? Generally they are held by the various County Clerks, or are supposed to be. I believe some of them might have migrated off the premises and might be held by various historical societies, or local libraries. If you want to view the “original” books you should start by checking with the County Clerk.

So in the 1950’s (I’m guessing,) the Mormon Church’s microfilming crews went to all of the NYS County Clerks offices and started to film many different types of documents, but certainly not all. I believe that all of the various county census that did get filmed were all done by LDS, and not filmed by the state, therefore LDS would retain the rights of distribution and they do not let the NYS Library send them out on ILL.

The films are available at all of the LDS Family History Centers (LDS FHC) through the microfilm rental program, whereby the film can be sent for at Salt Lake City and then viewed at your local LDS FHC. The cost of the rental is very nominal.

So what are you apt to find and how are the films arranged?

The 1825, 1835 & 1845 census list only the Head of the Household (HOH ) and all of the rest of the persons residing in that house (not necessarily related,) are grouped by ages and sex, quite similar to the U.S. federal census pre-1850. That being said, the early state census are very helpful in determining your ancestor’s relative standing in the community as there are in-depth questions relating to agriculture, commerce and manufacturing. You will be able to compare your ancestor’s answers with the neighbors, sort of to see if they were “Keeping up with the Jones’s.”

Then comes my personal favorite. The 1855 NYS census is a goldmine of information.
All of the people in the household were listed by name and each is shown as to how they relate, or not, to the HOH. Here you will find many surprises because grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws, boarders, servants, etc. living in the same household are described. Everyone was asked which specific county in NYS they were born, or which other state or country, and then there was a question as to how many years they have resided in this specific town. This census helps to put more family groups together than any other, IMHO.

The 1865 census has some handy details about the men who served in the military. 1875 is also very helpful. Then due to political reasons that I am still trying to dig out the answer on, there was no state census taken in 1885, and the next one was taken in 1892, due to a new governor coming in and ordering it so. The 1892 will list names, but other than that it lacks a lot of detail. The houses are not delineated and relationships are not given.

The 1905, 1915 and 1925 are back to showing housing groups and all names. Very helpful.

If you use these in conjunction with the federal census, and city or county business directories, tax lists, property records, and other items, you can put a pretty good picture together on your families.

Not all of the state census exist. I have made a chart of those that are known to have some parts available and you can take a look at our website click on
“NY COUNTIES & CENSUS” and you will see those that I have been able to locate.
When on that chart, if you click on the county name, it will take you directly to that specific county’s GenWeb site, where “a few” of these census have been indexed or transcribed.

The very best place to look for what is available on film is to go to the LDS Family History Library Catalog at, click on “Library” the click on “Family History Library Catalog” and do a “Place Search” for the county of interest. You will be shown the full list of what they have available, along with the film numbers, and you can then order them from your local FHC.

There is another possibility to locate these state census on film at a local genealogical reference library within the county of interest, or perhaps the county historian’s office. Ask around. They are all available to view at the NYS Library in Albany.

A “few” of these films have been indexed, or transcribed in full, and published either in print form or on the Internet. You will have to do some searching because each county is different. Some genealogical societies have taken these on as a project, and some kind souls have done it on their own. There is also a chance that some of them might start to show up on some of the subscription services like

I recall that the Central New York Genealogical Society published the 1825 Washington county census, and probably others, in their periodical “Tree Talks.” You might want to check the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) which is available on-line through HeritageQuest. Though it is just an index, you will be able to find those parts that are known to have been published in periodicals and where to find them.

So I hope some part of this helps and you all have great success. Let me know if you do.

1 comment:

TheGeneticGenealogist said...

Although I haven't seen it yet, the New York State Censuses and Substitutes by William Dollarhide is supposed to be a complete and comprehensive review of New York State censuses in all the various repositories throughout NY. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Part of me is holding out, however, until LDS digitizes its collection and makes it available and searchable online (probably in the next 5 to 10 years). It's a great time to be a genealogist!