New York State Census Records Online

This guide provides an overview of every New York state census, what kind of information can be found within each one, and where researchers can search New York state censuses online.

Why should all researchers be using both federal censuses and New York state censuses? These records often form the backbone of family history research.

Though the information contained in them varies throughout history, census records are incredibly useful because they were designed to capture key details about all households in a given geographic area, including very relevant and useful information for family history researchers.

By using both both federal censuses (administered by the U.S. Government every ten years beginning in 1790) and state censuses (administered by the State of New York every ten years beginning in 1825), one could theoretically locate a family every five years, creating a fantastic framework for further research and uncovering a lot of useful information in the process. 

Unfortunately, some state census records have been periodically lost or destroyed, but many have been preserved and are available to search online. 

   

New York State Census Overview

The second Constitution of the State of New York, written in 1821, required that a state census be taken in 1825 and every ten years after that - censuses were then taken ever ten years until 1875. 

Due to a number of political and bureaucratic conflicts, no state census was taken in 1885 - New York State wound up taking a census in 1892, skipped the census which should have occurred in 1895, and then resumed census taking every ten years in the fifth year of each decade - 1905, 1915, and 1925. The state census was officially abolished in 1931, so the 1925 state census is the last one that exists. 

There some limitations to this resource - certain years of census records have been mostly lost in part due to a massive fire at the New York State Library in 1911

Additionally, the information included also varies by year. As with the federal census, the New York state census only began recording the names of all household members in the mid-1800s.

For most researchers though, the New York state census is an absolutely essential resource - many censuses contain wonderfully rich and deep information that will help the researcher find more records and fill in the details of their family's New York story. 

If you have never searched a New York state census before, use this guide to get started - you can almost certainly uncover some exciting new information. 

 

Census Records as Genealogical Sources

It's important to remember that information found in census records is generally reliable, but can sometimes be inaccurate. When conducting the census, the information was gathered by a census taker, who usually asked the head of the household.

There is no guarantee that the head of the household was a reliable informant - things could be misremembered or even deliberately obfuscated. Furthermore, sometimes the family or head of the household wasn't home, and the information was collected from a neighbor. 

This is why census information should serve as the start of an investigation - everything found in the census should ideally be verified by other genealogical sources like birth, marriage, or death records. This doesn't mean to ignore census records - information gathered in a state or federal census can be essential to finding another record like a vital record or immigration document.

 

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New York State Census By Year

1825, 1835, and 1845 New York state censuses

The first three state censuses for New York are difficult to access and largely unavailable online. Most records have been lost - due to the 1911 State Capitol fire, all copies of this state census held by New York at that time were completely destroyed. 

Fortunately, county clerks maintained duplicate copies for their counties from the 1855 census onward, so not all nineteenth-century census records were lost - read below for ways to access subsequent state censuses. 

In some cases, counties may have maintained copies of records from these first three censuses - if you're seeking census records for the 1825, 1835, or 1845 state censuses, it's best to investigate directly at the local level by checking with county repositories.

Our county guides for genealogists and family historians contain information on state census availability for each county and where to find those records if they do exist.

For substitutes and other options, see the additional resources section of this guide. 

Researchers should keep in mind that these early censuses did not contain the same level of information found in later ones - similar to early federal censuses, only the head of the household was named, along with the number of other household members by age and sex. 

 

1855 New York state census

The 1855 New York state census is notable because it was the first to record the names of every individual in the household. It also asked about the relationship of each family member to the head of the household - something that was not asked in the federal census until 1880. 

The 1855 New York state census also provides the length of time that people had lived in their towns or cities as well as their state or country of origin - this is particularly helpful for tracing immigrant ancestors.

If born in New York State, the county of birth is was noted, which is helpful for tracing migration within New York State.  

Information collected in this census includes: 

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Relation to the head of the household
  • Birthplace (country, U.S. state, or New York county)
  • Marital status
  • Length of residence in current municipality
  • Occupation, citizenship status, and if a landowner
  • Literacy status, and if deaf, dumb, or blind

Availability of records: Most counties have records available from this census, but some - including some larger downstate counties, including New York City boroughs - have been destroyed. The FamilySearch wiki article New York State Census, 1855 has a list of counties available.

For substitutes or alternate records, see the additional state census resources section of this guide. 

Most of New York City’s Ward 17 for the 1855 New York state census is available only in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s eLibrary.

As this Lower East Side ward was a temporary home for many new immigrants, this census was frequently the only record of their stay in New York City.

Search the 1855 New York state census

 

1865 New York state census

The 1865 census, taken just after the Civil War ended, was the arguably the most detailed New York state census ever taken.

It is especially useful because it included more than the usual questions asked on the "population schedule" - additional schedules were included, which collected information on military service and marriages and deaths that occurred the year ending June 1, 1865.

The military information is of great use to those beginning to uncover the stories of Civil War ancestors (beginning right at the conclusion of the war is often an excellent place to start).

The marriage and death information can also be immensely helpful for New York vital records research - New York did not begin reliable tracking of births, marriages, and deaths for a few decades, so this may be used as a replacement for missing vital records. 

The information in the population schedule of this census includes:

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Relation to the head of the household
  • Birthplace (country, U.S. state, or New York county)
  • Marital status and number of times married
  • Occupation, citizen status, if a landowner
  • Number of children born to mother
  • If over 21 and illiterate, and if handicapped
  • Military service 

The schedules about military service, marriages, and deaths all have additional information related to those events. 

Availability of records: Most New York counties are available, but some are missing. The FamilySearch wiki article New York State Census, 1865 has a list of counties available.

For substitutes or alternate records, see the additional state census resources section of this guide. 

Search the 1865 New York state census

 

1875 New York state census

The 1875 state census is nearly as rich as the one taken in 1865 - it also includes additional schedules that collected information on military service and marriages and deaths that occurred within a year prior to June 1, 1875.

Military information is related to those currently serving as well as military veterans.

The marriage and death information may be particularly useful for those seeking vital record substitutes - New York did not begin reliable tracking of births, marriages, and deaths for a few decades

The information in the population schedule of this census includes: 

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Marital status and number of times married
  • Occupation, citizen status, if a landowner
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Birthplace (country, U.S. state, or New York county)
  • Number of children
  • If handicapped

The schedules about military service, marriages, and deaths all have additional information related to those events. 

Availability of records: Most New York counties are available, but some are missing. The FamilySearch wiki article New York State Census, 1875 has a list of all counties available. 

For substitutes or alternate records, see the additional state census resources section of this guide. 

Search the 1875 New York state census.

 

1892 New York state census

The New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer explains that "because of various political and bureaucratic issues, there was no 1885 census. Instead, the state took a census in 1892, skipped the 1895 census, and then resumed the pattern, conducting state censuses in 1905, 1915, and 1925." 

This interruption of our regularly scheduled census can be a boon for researchers - the 1892 state census is a valuable substitute for the destroyed 1890 federal census. The information included this census is a little less detailed than in the immediately preceding state censuses: 

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Birthplace (country only)
  • Citizenship status
  • Occupation

Availability of records: Only 40 of New York's counties are covered. The FamilySearch wiki has a New York State Census, 1892 coverage table that lists all counties available. 

For substitutes or alternate records, see the additional state census resources section of this guide. 

Search the 1892 New York state census

 

1905 New York state census

New York State resumed its normal state census schedule in 1905. The information asked on this census is very similar to the 1892 state census: 

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Birthplace (country only)
  • Citizenship status
  • Occupation
  • Number of years in the United States

Availability of records: All but 13 New York counties are available for this census. The FamilySearch wiki article New York State Census, 1905 has a list of all counties available. 

For substitutes or alternate records, see the additional state census resources section of this guide. 

Search the 1905 New York state census

 

1915 New York state census

The 1915 state census is the oldest of New York's state censuses to have records for every county in the state. Information collected on this census includes: 

  • Household address
  • Name (of each household member)
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Age, gender, race
  • Birthplace (country only)
  • Citizenship status
  • Number of years in the United States
  • Occupation
  • Whether an inmate of an institution, address where living at the time of admission, and date of admission

Availability of records: All 62 counties of New York State are covered. 

Researchers should note that while the index to this state census is available to search on FamilySearch.org, the images linked to are located on Ancestry.com. To view these images, researchers will need to create an account on Ancestry.com (paid subscription is not required).

Search the 1915 New York state census

 

1925 New York state census

In 1931, the New York State Constitution was amended to abolish the state census, which made the 1925 state census was the last one. Information collected on this census was the same as the 1915 state census:

  • Household address
  • Name (of each household member)
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Age, gender, race
  • Birthplace (country only)
  • Citizenship status
  • Number of years in the United States
  • Occupation
  • Whether an inmate of an institution, address where living at the time of admission, and date of admission

Availability of records: All 62 counties of New York State are covered. 

Researchers should note that while the index to this state census is available to search on FamilySearch.org, the images linked to are located on Ancestry.com. To view these images, researchers will need to create an account on Ancestry.com (paid subscription is not required).

Search the 1925 New York state census

 

Additional State Census Resources

As noted in the introduction, there were often multiple copies of each New York State census, and some (including many copies for counties that are otherwise unavailable online) can only be accessed in a physical repository. 

Researchers will want to consult some of the below resources to ensure that an exhaustive search is completed.

 

New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer

This large guide to New York genealogy research is written and published by the NYG&B - there is a full chapter dedicated to New York censuses. The chapter also includes useful information about the federal census that relates to New York State.

The census chapter of the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer goes into more detail distinguishing between state and county copies of each census. It also provides guidance to accessing records for certain counties that have incomplete or missing censuses for a given year. 

More information on this publication can be found on our website - additional chapters form a comprehensive overview of all other New York State records and locations. 

 

New York State Censuses and Substitutes

This publication, written by William Dollarhide, is a comprehensive text on New York's state censuses and goes into more specific detail than the chapter in the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer. It is the perfect tool for a researcher determined to complete the most exhaustive state census searches possible, though it may not contain the most up-to-date information on online records due to recent changes. 

The work provides a complete overview of where to find all state census originals and provides suggested substitutes for many records that are missing or have been destroyed. Learn more about New York State Censuses and Substitutes in the NYG&B online store

 

Ancestry.com and Others

FamilySearch.org has a fantastic collection of online state census records, but it is not the only place to search the New York state censuses online.

Ancestry.com and other subscription services have state census records as well, and the image quality and specific indexes may differ in certain cases.

The FamilySearch Wiki has a table titled Census Records done by the State of New York which lists several other sites that also have online copies of each state census. The table can be found on the New York Census page in the FamilySearch Wiki. 

 

More New York Genealogy Tips

 

About the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society


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