U. S.
Census Records
 Federal Population Schedules  
1790 - 1940.


  • This page explains how to find, research and order copies of Massachusetts federal census records from 1790 - 1940.

  • You can request a search of a Massachusetts census record from 1850 to 1940, directly from this web site.

  • Unrelated but frequently asked questions:

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Picture courtesy National Archives

Federal Census: Background & History

The federal census was taken every ten years, beginning with 1790. For research purposes, the population censuses can be divided into four groups: 1790-1840, 1850-1870, 1880, and 1900-1940.

Researchers should note that most of the 1890 federal census was destroyed in a fire in 1921.

In addition, the federal government considers census data confidential for seventy-two years following the census. The next available census to researchers will be the 1950 federal census in 2022.

We recommend you read more about the value of census research in Val D. Greenwood's book titled, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, published in Baltimore, by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc.,1990. Chapter's 11 and 12 of his book are especially helpful.

You can also visit the National Archives web site and read more about microfilmed census records. Moreover, discover unique clues found in various federal census years 1790 - 1840 and 1850 -1930 to help further your research.
The value of census records cannot be understated. Used in conjunction with other Massachusetts records, such as probate, land, naturalization and vital records, researchers can assimilate entire families.

Available Census Indexes

Obviously the amount of data collected in each census is pretty enormous - there were over 100 million people in the United States at the time of the 1920 census. Without some knowledge of where a person lived or the availability of an index, finding the census data for an individual would be next to impossible.

However, there are a  few tools that researchers can access.

The Soundex !

The Soundex is an index in which surnames that sound alike but are spelled differently are coded together. There is a separate microfilm publication for each state. Within each state, Soundex codes are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the surnames and then consecutively by numerical code. Within each numerical code, individuals are arranged alphabetically by given name, and within given names, alphabetically by state of birth.

The National Archives has microfilm indexes to the 1880, 1900 and 1920 Massachusetts census.

The 1880 Soundex is only a partial index. It is limited to households in which there were children ten years of age or younger present when the census was taken.

The 1900 and 1920 Soundex includes all households in Massachusetts.


Although a Soundex card contains some information about the household, you should not use it as a substitute for the census schedule itself. The Soundex card does not include all information on the census schedule and, in the process of preparing the Soundex, names and other information may have been transcribed incorrectly.

In addition to the 1880 - 1920 Soundex, there are published book indexes to each census for Massachusetts between 1790 and 1860. Census indexes and images can also be searched online via, but you first need to be a paying customer.

If you'd like to process a Massachusetts census record request, please go to our census order form.

Upon receiving payment, we generally ship census records within 10 - 21 business days.

Related Census Links:

NARA's Census Microfilm

Clues For Research 1790-1840
Clues For Research 1850-1930

The Burning of 1890 Census

The 1930 Census

The 1940 Census


Order Forms

Vital Records





Probate Records

You can easily order a 
probate file
, such as a will, a name change, a guardianship file or an administration file.

Newspaper Research

Need us to search for an obituary, 
a birth,
a marriage 
or other type of
  news story?

United States
Naturalization Records

Where did they come from? How did they get here? And when did they arrive?

Census Records

Who really lived in that house in 1920?

 City Directories

Researched as part of an overall family history project. We do not provide individual lookups.

Massachusetts Cemetery Research

Researched as part of an overall family history project. We do not provide individual lookups.

Research Fees

How much does this information cost?

Custom Research Projects
 Are Available !

Send us an email to request a specific research project.

 We'll respond ASAP with a price quote and estimation of time to complete your request.

Research Guides


Probate Courts

Registry of Deeds

Daily Newspapers

Hot Research Links

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