This collection contains the following indexes: 1827 Territorial Census Index; 1837 Kalamazoo County Index; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners List; 1845 State Census Index; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1870 Federal Census Index; Early Census Index.
By constitutional requirement, the federal government of the United States conducts an enumeration of the nation every ten years. Since the first census in 1790, the returns from these censuses have become an invaluable source of information for genealogists and others. This collection of census records contains a vast amount of information on millions of Americans.
Although the questions asked and information provided has changed since that first census, there is some basic information provided in all indexes. The name of the head of the household is provided from the first census. In 1800, age categorization and residence was added to the other questions regarding slaves, and number of males and females. In 1820, categorization of occupation was added. In 1830, categorization of deaf, dumb, and blind persons was added. In 1850, the name, age, sex, color, place of birth, and literacy was added to the questionnaire. In 1860, the value of real estate was an added feature of the enumeration. And in 1880 the census added questions relative to marital status, and parents' place of birth.
In 1840 an enumeration of living Revolutionary War veterans was included in the census. This was a list of names recorded on the back of the original printed census forms. Beginning in 1870, the enumerators asked questions regarding Civil War veterans and lists were compiled from these records. In both cases, only the name of the veteran is available.
At the 1850 and 1860 censuses, an enumeration of slaves was performed. Full names were rarely recorded, yet each slave was numbered. Organized by owner, each person was listed with age, sex and color. With these details, along with other facts gathered outside the schedule, it is possible to locate a specific person without actually finding their name.
Despite the wealth of information available in census indexes, there are limitations. These include incomplete information, mis-transcribed information, mis-recorded information, and incorrect information. Reasons for these problems include persons who refused to answer the enumerators questions, persons who lied in answer to the enumerators questions, persons missed by the enumerators, and human error in writing down the information originally or transmitted incorrectly.