A census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area. In addition to counting the inhabitants of an area, the census generally collects other vital information, such as names, ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background. Each census can prove to be invaluable in painting a portrait of a family at a particular place and time.
For genealogists, census records have become the go-to tool when conducting research in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In theory, census enumerate every person in every household, in ever district, in every town, in the state or country the census was taken in. In reality, they did miss people, for various reasons, and quite often misspelled names. To add further confusion, most census indices have been extracted by foreigners not familiar with the handwriting of the enumerator, or the local names. This requires the researcher to be diligent in searching for an individual, and don't always take a "no results" in a search as the definitive word.
Free Census Forms
These census forms will help you keep track of the census information you find online: Free Census Forms
United States Census Online
We have chosen to break our census down by location. The following state links will provide you with listings of the available online census broken down by county.
Canada Census Online