Sunday, June 23, 2013

Census Sunday – County Census Records

This week I went to my local County Clerk’s Office with a good friend to search for
records for her ancestors. You can read about our trip together in my previous post. We were able to uncover immigration and marriage records that added information to my friend’s family story.

I was happily surprised to discover that our county had conducted its own census! I have searched federal and state census reports of New York State but had no idea Rensselaer County had these records tucked away in the basement of the county clerk’s office.

The books are massive cloth covered volumes that we could barely lift off the shelves. They are not indexed in any way. Each of the census years are in two volumes: the City of Troy and the Towns of the county.

I have searched census records on microfilm, on line and in books with transcribed records. I had never held the actual census books before; the books where the census takers listed the names of the families they visited. I was glad that helping my friend had led me to that unique opportunity.

Those census reports included: names, sex, race, ages, place of birth; marital status, number of years in the area, type of house [brick, frame, etc.] & value of house.

We found my friend’s family in 1855 & 1875. Because we already knew the Ward Number where they lived [from US census records] it was not too difficult to go page by page and locate them. The records gave my friend new information for her family tree.

From now on I plan to look for similar records in areas where my ancestors lived. Who knows? Maybe I will uncover something as exciting as my local county clerk’s office.


  1. The original documents are great for identifying neighbors that may related or moved with your ancestor.

    1. Yes, my friend is learning a lot about her family & its neighbors.

  2. Your county records sound interesting, especially learning whether your ancestor's home was built of bricks or frame.


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