Tips for using the Federal Population Census Records
The first federal population census was taken in 1790.
Census records listed only the head of household by name until 1850.
The others in the household were listed by age brackets.
From 1850 the census included each person in the home by name, age, birthplace, and a variety of other information.
Most of the 1880 through 1920 census has either a Soundex or miracode index, which indexes the head of the household by sound of the surname. (The exception is that several states in 1910 do not have a Soundex or miracode.)
Most of the 1890 census was destroyed, though a large part of a special Civil War union index taken at the same time exists.
The most recent census now available to the general public is 1920.
The 1930 federal population census will not be available until the year 2002 because of privacy restrictions.
All the federal populations schedules that are open to the public are available at the National Archives or it's branches, and various other repositories.