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Genealogical Resources: U.S. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940

Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 (Record Group 75)

These census rolls were usually submitted each year by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations as required by an act of Congress of July 4, 1884. The information given in the rolls varies to some extent, but usually given are the English and/or Indian name of the person, roll number, age or date of birth, sex, and relationship to head of family. Some may also include the degree of Indian blood. They were compiled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and arranged by Indian agency jurisdiction and year. The census rolls are arranged alphabetically by name of agency or other jurisdiction and thereunder by year. For jurisdictions with more than one tribe or band or more than one reservation, there may be several rolls for each year. There is not a census for every group of Indians for every year.  It was not always possible to take a census on some reservations; and some rolls were lost over the years. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls. 

The collection is quite large: 692 rolls of microfilm. The New Mexico State Library owns approx. 70 reels covering New Mexico including the following:

  • Albuquerque Indian Schools (Pueblo and Navajo)
  • Eastern Navajo
  • Hopi
  • Jicarilla Apache
  • Laguna
  • Northern Pueblos
  • Paiute
  • Pueblo Bonito (Navajo)
  • Pueblo Day Schools (Pueblo and Navajo)
  • San Jacinto (Mission etc.)
  • San Juan (Navajo Indians)
  • Santa Fe (Pueblo Indians)
  • Southern Pueblo
  • Southern Ute 
  • United Pueblos
  • Ute 
  • Walapai (or Hualapai) and Havasupai
  • Zuni

The collection is also available on Ancestry.com (in-building use only).

Related Collections

Records of the Bureau of the Census (Record Group 29)

Though the United States first started taking a national census in 1790, New Mexico did not appears until the 1850 census (7th). The New Mexico State Library has microfilm of the dicennial Federal Census of New Mexico for the years: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, New Mexico Territory Census of 1885, (the majority of the 1890 census was destroyed by a fire), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, & 1940. Note that there is a 72-year privacy restriction on census data.

The questions asked by census takers vary from year to year and from state to state. Detailed information about the questionnaires from 1790-2000 can be found in the Census Bureau publication Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 (available online). Digitized census records are available on Ancestry.com

Spanish and Mexican Census Records

1845, 1830, 1827, 1826, 1823, 1822, 1816, 1802, 1790, and 1750-- Mexican and Spanish colonial censuses exist. The colonial censuses include the wife's maiden name. These censuses are incomplete and do not include all families in New Mexico.
The colonial censuses are available at:
      • The New Mexico Records Center and Archives
      • The University of New Mexico Library
The transcribed and indexed versions are available at the New Mexico State Library:
  • Olmsted, Virginia L. Spanish and Mexican Colonial Censuses of New Mexico: 1790, 1823, 1845. Albuquerque, New Mexico: New Mexico Genealogical Society, 1975. Gen 929.3789 S735c
  • Olmsted, Virginia L. Spanish and Mexican Censuses of New Mexico: 1750-1830. Albuquerque, New Mexico: New Mexico Genealogical Society, 1981. Gen 929.3789 S735c