Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ways to Look at American Indian Genealogy

This image from the Library of Congress shows two men seated at tables taking the Census at Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota. It was taken between 1880 and 1900.   (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

It's a struggle to know where to start when trying to find Native American ancestors. We will be sharing ten places to begin your search over the next few days.  

1880 U.S. Census

In 1880, enumerator instructions directed census takers to include Native Americans who were “not in tribal relations” and living among white residents on the general population schedules. They were not to record “Indians not taxed”—that is, Native Americans who were nomadic or lived on government Indian reservations. These individuals were enumerated in a separate census that year. This database contains images of 1880 census schedules. 

We offer Ancestry Library Edition free for patrons to utilize here in the library. 

Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940

In 1884, the U.S. Congress authorized an Indian census be taken annually. In 1885, many of the tribes started taking it and continued to do so until 1940. Not all tribes complied. These rolls record the name of the Indian and other information, as well as deaths in previous years—giving date of death.

Indian censuses are important because these contain both the Indian and given name of an individual. The later rolls contain more pertinent genealogical data. 

Also available online free, but not indexed, most of the rolls done after 1900 are in alphabetical order and were typewritten, making searches easier. Visit to find them.