Census Research Guide

Chicago 1910 Census Finding Aid. [uncataloged; available at the Genealogy and Local History Desk]

This research guide contains a sample of the Newberry's resources on this topic.  Consult a reference librarian or the online catalog for more details.

Census Resources

A list of the Newberry’s census holdings is available online or at the 2nd floor reference desk.

Many census indexes are available in print and on CD. Search the online catalog by the name of the county and town. Search the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to see if any indexes were published in journals. Some census items (indexes, schedules, transcriptions) may be
available through the Family History Library.

Guides and Bibliographies

Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. Ed. Alice Eichholz. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992.  Local History Ref CS 49.A55 1992 (2nd floor open shelf).

Bureau of the Census Catalog of Publications. Washington, DC: GPO, 1974. Call No. Ref Z 7554.U5 U58 1974 (3rd floor open shelf). Lists census publications by year, and offers brief descriptive information. Check online catalog for specific holdings.

Directory of Census Information Sources. Ed. J. Konrad. Munroe Falls, OH: Summit Pub., 1984. Call No. folio HA 214. K66 1984.

Dollarhide, William. The Census Book: A Genealogist’s Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes. Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1999. Call No. folio HA 214. D63 1999.

Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Ed. Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000. Call No. Local History Ref Z 5313.U5 U54 2000 (2nd floor open shelf). See
Section A, Chapter 1 (starting on page 15). Also see the Census Resources and Links page on the National Archives website.

Greenwood, Val. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2000. Call No. Local History Ref CS 47.G73 2000 (2nd floor open shelf). See Chapters 13 and 14 (pages 233-307).

Hinkley, Kathleen. Your Guide to the Federal Census for Genealogists, Researchers and Family Historians. Cincinnati : Betterway Books, 2002. Call No. Local History Ref HA 37 .U6 H556 2002 (2nd floor open shelf).

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series Documentation. Minneapolis: Minnesota Population Center. This site contains a wealth of historical information about the process of census taking. http://usa.ipums.org/usa/doc.shtml

Kemp, Thomas Jay. The American Census Handbook. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001. Call No. Local History Ref CS 49.K4 2001 (2nd floor open shelf).

Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997. Call No. Local History Ref CS 49.S9 2006 (2nd floor open shelf).

State Censuses

A list of the Newberry's state census holdings is available at the 2nd floor reference desk and at: https://www.newberry.org/census-holdings. For a list of digitized state censuses, see: http://www.researchguides.net/census/state.htm

Dubester, Henry J. State Censuses: An Annotated Bibliography of Censuses Of Population Taken After the Year 1790 by States and Territories of the United States. New York: Burt Franklin, 1969. Call No. Local History Ref Z 7554.U5 U63 1969 (2nd floor open shelf).

Lainhart, Ann S. State Census Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1992. Call No. Local History Ref Z 5313.U5 L37 1992 (2nd floor open shelf).

Census Maps

The Newberry has Chicago census maps for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. Chicago enumeration district descriptions for 1920 and 1930 are also available on microfilm. An online resource for Chicago is at: http://www.alookatcook.info/.

For an explanation of online maps for 1940, see the National Archives website at: https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/finding-aids

For various online census tools, see Stephen Morse’s One-Step Webpages: http://stevemorse.org/

Prechtel-Kluskens, Claire. Index to Selected City Streets and Enumeration Districts, 1930 Census. Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, 2001. Call No. Local History Ref Microfilm 1232 (2nd floor open shelf).

Thorndale, William. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1987. Call No. Local History Ref G 1201.F7 T5 1987 (2nd floor open shelf).


Blake, Kellee. “First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 28.1 (Spring 1996): 64-81. Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date). Also available online at: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/spring/1890-census-1.html

Blake, Kellee. “The Fourteenth Numbering of the People: The 1920 Federal Census.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 23.2 (Summer 1991): 131-143. Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date).

Hatten, Ruth Land. “The Forgotten Census of 1880: Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly. 80.1 (March 1992): 57-70. Call No. CS 42.N4 (2nd floor open shelf).

Potter, Constance. “Preparing for the 1930 Census.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 34.1 (Spring 2002). Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date). Also available online at: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/spring/1930-census-1.html

Potter, Constance. “New Questions in the 1940 Census.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 42.4 (Winter 2010). Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date). Also available online at: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/winter/1940-census.html

Prechtel-Kluskens, Claire. “The WPA Census Soundexing Projects.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives. 34.1 (Spring 2002). Call No. CD 3020 .P76 (specify date). Also available online at: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/spring/soundex-projects.html

Statistical Abstracts of Census Data

While genealogists are most interested in the raw data recorded in population schedules, other historians rely on the compiled statistics from the census to describe changes in the nation's demographics over time. The government publishes census data in printed reports, and online. The Newberry Library has copies of the printed census reports for the years 1790-1900. The Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/ offers tools for analyzing data from the most recent census and online access to statistical reports of the census.

IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System (https://www.nhgis.org/). This database allows users to analyze and compile census data from 1790-2010.

Enumerator Instructions

In each census from 1850-1940, the census bureau issued written instructions to individuals hired to take the census. These instructions help explain the sometimes mysterious data recorded on the schedules.

U.S. Census Office. 12th Census, 1900...Instructions To Enumerators. Call No. Govt I 13:7:7-653. numerator Instructions: 1850-2000. Part of the Integrated Public Use Microdata website from the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota. http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tEnumInstr.shtml

Call our reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or contact a librarian with research questions.