California Census

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Federal[edit | edit source]

Many federal census records are at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. The Census section of the United States Research Outline provides more detailed information on these records.

The Family History Library has the U.S. federal censuses for the state of California for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. The 1890 census has been destroyed.

Statewide indexes are available in book format for the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses. Soundex (phonetic) indexes are available on microfilm for part of the 1880 and all of the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses.

Mortality schedules for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses are at the California State Library. A published index to the 1850 schedule is available at the Family History Library.

Colonial and State[edit | edit source]

Pre-statehood lists (called padrons) of Spanish, Mexican, and Indian residents have been published in The Quarterly (Historical Society of Southern California), Volumes 15, 18, 41-43, 54 (FHL book 979.4 B2s). Especially helpful are the Los Angeles censuses of 1790, 1836, and 1844. The original records are scattered among various archives. The Family History Library has copies on microfilm.

The California State Library and the Family History Library have copies of a state census of 1852 (FHL films 909229-34). This census gives information on the entire household, including an individual's state or country of birth and last residence.

The California State Archives also has some censuses for California cities covering the period 1897 to 1938. These generally contain only the names and addresses of the persons enumerated, although some records give more information. The Family History Library has copies of several of these censuses through 1910, including:

  • Los Angeles and San Jose (1897)
  • San Diego (1899)
  • Oakland (1902)

Web Sites
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Ancestry has all of the US censuses indexed, digitized and online at Some of these are free databases and others are only accessible through a subscription to the site. also has most of the federal censuses but is only accessible through your local public library.