How Do You Find Old Census Records for Free?


Quick Answer

Old census records are free to view at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., as well as 11 of its regional facilities. State archives, state libraries and public libraries typically hold census records for free public viewing. The USGenWeb Project is an online resource for free census records.

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Full Answer

The USGenWeb Project is a volunteer organization. Because individuals transcribe the census records when they have free time, not all census records are available. Volunteers organize the records by county and state and link them through thousands of USGenWeb Project websites.

National Archives regional facilities with census records are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Kansas City, as well as New York City, San Francisco and Fort Worth, Texas. There are also regional facilities in Boston, Denver, Seattle and Riverside, California. While the National Archives does not offer census records online, they do maintain subscriptions to paid genealogy websites with census records. Visitors to the archives have free, unlimited access to these subscription-based sites. Many public libraries also offer free access to paid genealogy websites.

The National Archives and Records Administration maintain all census records from 1790 through 1940. Census records are released 72 years after the information is collected. The 1950 census is scheduled for release in 2022.

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