The Federal Census of the United States began in 1790 and is taken every ten years. Census records can provide valuable information about names of family members, years of birth, birthplaces, and professions. Records can be found in the research databases Ancestry and HeritageQuest, the National Archives, and from historical societies.
Colonies and some states conducted their own census counts, typically every five years (halfway between the federal censuses). These records can provide useful information on early settlers and their movements. Find links to these census reports on the FamilySearch site.
Keep in mind that census records and indexing may not be complete or accurate. You may find:
First name & surname variations: Mistakes in spelling are common due to illiteracy, accents, handwriting, indexing errors, and incorrect transcriptions.
Legal name changes: Name changes due to marriage, children taking a stepfather's surname, and immigrants adopting American names.
Use the Soundex search options to broaden your searches.
Search by surname or limit your search to a geographic area to make the results more relevant.