Census Records for Alabama
This entry was originally written by Robert S. Davis and Mary Bess Paluzzi for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
• Indexed—1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
• Soundex—1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
Industry and Agriculture Schedules
• 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
• 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
• 1850, 1860
The only extant records for Alabama of the almost-destroyed 1890 census are portions of Perryville (Beat No. 11) and Severe (Beat No. 8) of Perry County.
Territorial and State
A state census was taken in 1820, although records exist for only eight counties. These counties are Baldwin, Conecuh, Dallas, Franklin, Limestone, St. Clair, Shelby, and Wilcox. These records have been published and indexed.
You can find an online database available at Ancestry.com that includes state censuses from 1820, 1850, 1855, and 1866. Subscribers can access it here at Alabama State Census, 1820-1866. This collection was indexed by Ancestry.com World Archives Project contributors.
Ancestry.com also has another Alabama census collection that was indexed by Accelerated Indexing in 1999. It contains the following indexes: 1810 Census Index; 1810-1819 Tax Lists Index; 1820 Federal Census Index; 1830 Federal Census Index; 1830-1839 Early Records; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners Index; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1855 State Census Index; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1860 Mortality Schedules; 1860 Slave Schedules; 1870 Federal Census Index; 1890 Pensioners Index; Alabama Early Census, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Subscribers can access this collection at Alabama Census, 1810-90.
Alabama’s early census records are scant when compared with other states of the same age. Elizabeth Shown Mills cites twelve groups of census or census substitute materials for 1706 through 1816–19, all with enumerations compiled before statehood, in her essay “Alabama” in Genealogical Research: Methods and Sources, vol. 2, rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: American Society of Genealogists, 1983). Sources for locating the census and substitutes are cited as well.
State censuses were taken sporadically. A sizable but incomplete collection exists, including one for 1855, which is indexed. The 1850 and 1866 censuses survive and are widely available on microfilm, but are not indexed. Information on them includes only the head of household and demographic enumeration for the household. The 1866 census adds information about household members killed, wounded or missing in the Civil War. The originals are housed in the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Microfilmed copies may be purchased from them (see Archives, Libraries, and Societies for address). Enumerations of Native American Alabama inhabitants were made before cession of their lands. Other significant sources for Alabama’s Native Americans are cited in National Archives and Records Service, American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications (Washington, D.C.: NARA, 1984) (see page 15). The enumerations include these works:
- Crumpton, Barbara J. 1884 Hester Roll of the Eastern Cherokee. Duncan, Okla.: Creative Copies, 1986 (NARA M685, reel 12).
- Felldin, Jeanne Roby, and Charlotte Magee Tucker. 1832 Census of Creek Indians Taken By Parsons and Abbott (With an Added Full Names Index of “White” Names). Tomball, Tex.: Genealogical Publications, 1978 (NARA T275, 1 reel).
- ———. Index to the Cherokee Indians East of the Mississippi River. Tomball, Tex.: Genealogical Publications, 1978 (Henderson Roll, 1835, NARA T496, 1 reel).
- Jordan, Jerry Wright. Cherokee By Blood: Records of Eastern Cherokee Ancestry in the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906–1910. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1987-present (Guion Miller Roll, NARA M685, 12 reels).
- Siler, David W. The Eastern Cherokees: A Census of the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia in 1851. Cottonport, La.: Polyanthos, 1972.
- U.S. Congress. American State Papers. Documents of the Congress of the United States in Relation to Public Land.... Vol. 7. Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1860 (Armstrong Roll of Choctaws, 1831).
In 1907 a census was taken of Alabama’s Confederate veterans. County tax assessors canvassed all persons who were receiving a pension for Confederate service. Information enumerated includes name, place of residence, date and place of birth, enlistment and discharge or parole, rank, and name of military unit. Originals are housed in the Alabama Department of Archives and History and are now available from them on microfilm. From 1958 through 1982, the Alabama Genealogical Society, Inc., Magazine published Alabama Confederate pensioners lists from several counties.
Another census was taken in 1921 of Confederate pensioners in Alabama. This census was taken by mail with each pensioner being asked to complete and return the form to the state. The original forms may be examined at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and are widely available on microfilm, as is the 1927 census of widow pensioners.