Census: FamilySearch Example

In this example we will look up the 1900 census record for Alta Rockefeller using Familysearch.org which is a free service.  You can use the same approach to replicate these results or conduct your own search.

Conducting simple First & Last Name Search

Step one: is to launch the follwing website: https://www.familysearch.org/search

That link brings up a name-based search utility where we will conduct a basic first and last name search and initially will not make any adjustments for dates,  locations or collection. Also note that we did not check “Match all terms exactly” which would have refined our results.  In this initial step we wanted a less restrictive search which at times can be helpful by catching alternative spelling of a name.

FS_inital name only screen

By not restricting the search to a particular date range or geographic location we will obtain the largest variety of results and possible matches including many topics such as census records or birth records amoung others.

Later we show how to make a more refined search by using several other pieces of information.

The results from our simple name search shown below show several records for Alta Rockefeller each with different birth dates and borth locations.  Based on our earlier obituary research we happen to know she was born in 1871 so we will select that record and skip the Alta Rockefeller born 1901 in Kansas.

To see the details click on the Alta Rockefeller in blue just above the United State Census, 1900.  This brings up a screen with some additional details for that particular census.  To see the scanned image click on the scanned image icon.  In some cases, you can see the image immediately without signing into FamilySearch.  Other times, you will have to sign into your free account.

In our simple search, without any additional filters, the results show a wide range of possible names, ages and types of documents.  To  narrow the results to just census information change the “collections” setting which is available on the left side.  Click on the word “Collections” and the window will open and then you can click on “Census & Lists” which will filter the results to just census information.


You can further refine your search by restricting the results to a single census by clicking on “Census & Lists” which brings up a window and then select a single census such as the  United States Census, 1920.