Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Browse the U.S. Census on FamilySearch - Tuesday's Tip

I recently read a blogger's lament:  I wish I could browse the U. S. Census on FamilySearch.  You can browse (some) U. S. Census records on FamilySearch.  Here's how.

These instructions begin with the assumption that you know how to find the list of  census records on FamilySearch.  They also assume that you're searching for a specific surname in a specific county and state.  If you don't have a surname in mind and just want to get to a particular locality, use any common surname such as Smith or Jones or Miller to begin. 

1) Choose the census year.

2) Type in the surname but omit the first name.  Add the location (county and state) in the Residence Place box.  You don't need any other information if you want to browse.

3) ▼ Click on the blue "Search" box.

4) When the results appear click on the name of an individual.  It doesn't matter which name:  any name will do if your intention is to browse.

5) Click "View the document" in the box to the right.
Important Note:  If the message in the box tells you that this is an Ancestry.com image, you won't be able to browse those census images in FamilySearch.

6) When the census image appears, you'll notice that above the black bar are clickable links in blue letters.  Click the county. 

7) The E.D. districts will appear for the county.  Click whichever Enumeration District you'd like to view.   

8) The images for the E.D. will appear beginning with image 1.  You can move from page to page by clicking the arrow to the right of the number box above the black bar.

9) If you want to look at a different county in the same state, click on the state (located above the black bar).     A list of counties will appear.  Click the name of county you'd like to browse. 

10)  After you've reached the county click on the E.D. you'd like to browse.

You can also choose a different state by clicking on "United States Census, [year]" above the black bar.

If you want to change census years you'll need to go back to FamilySearch's list of U.S. census records.

Important Note:  The option to browse is available only for census records that are provided from FamilySearch.  Records shared from Ancestry.com and available on FamilySearch are not browsable.  Browsing may not be available on all U.S. Census Records.  (I didn't test them all.)


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. As many times as I've used FS census records, I've never paid attention to the blue links. This will be very useful when I want to look for someone whose surname has many different spellings or to look for a daughter who might have married but I don't know the married name.

    1. And it's also great if you're trying to find neighbors who may have moved together. I'm sure there are other times it could be helpful, too. I've used it once to verify neighbors of Christian Gerner (with spelling variations of Garner and Gardner) and another time when I wanted to know how close siblings lived to each other.

  2. Oh now this is sneaky-good! I too have lots of family with commonly misspelled surnames! Just being able to look in a narrowed down area will help immensely! Yay for fabulous tips! Thanks Nancy!

    1. I hope the census records you're searching are ones that you can use this tip, Kassie.

  3. I'm so pleased that there are at least 3 of us who didn't know how to do this. I've shared tips that I later learned were common knowledge to most people. So maybe this is helpful to at least a few readers. Thanks for leaving comments.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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