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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Colorado State Census, 1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Schedules of the Colorado State Census, 1885. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M158, 8 rolls.

About Colorado State Census, 1885

On 1 June 1885 a special federal census of Colorado was taken. It enumerated the following counties:

  • Araphoe
  • Dolores
  • Huerfano
  • Pitkin
  • Archuleta
  • Douglas
  • Jefferson
  • Pueblo
  • Bent
  • Eagle
  • Lake
  • Rio Grande
  • Boulder
  • Elbert
  • La Plata
  • Routt
  • Chaffee
  • El Paso
  • Larimer
  • Saguache
  • Clear Creek
  • Gilpin
  • Las Animas
  • San Juan
  • Conejos
  • Grand
  • Mesa
  • San Miguel
  • Costilla
  • Gunnison
  • Montrose
  • Summit
  • Custer
  • Hinsdale
  • Ouray
  • Weld
  • Delta
  •  
  • Park
  •  

While the entire special census for this year included population, agricultural, manufacturing, and mortality schedules, this database only includes the population schedules. Information recorded on the population schedules and available in this database includes:

  • Enumeration place (locality, county, state)
  • Enumeration District (ED) number
  • Name of individual
  • Relationship to the head of household
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Birth date
  • Birth location
  • Father's birth location
  • Mother's birth location

Additional information about an individual may be listed on the census. This information can be obtained by viewing the census image.

Microfilmed copies of this census are held at the Colorado State Archives, the National Archives, the Colorado Historical Society, the Denver Public Library, and the LDS Family History Library.

Why this census is important:

The 1890 U.S. Federal Census was damaged and destroyed by fire in 1921. Less than 1 percent of the schedules are available for research today. Because of this problem, the 1885 Colorado State Census has become a highly valuable source as it provides a wealth of information that would otherwise be found in the Federal Census.

About Colorado:

Colorado fell under several governmental jurisdictions during its developmental history, being for a time part of the territories of Spain, Missouri, Mexico, Utah, United States, New Mexico, unorganized Native American land, and finally Nebraska and Kansas. Records, however, exist only for the dominions of Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, and Nebraska territories. The territory of Colorado, with its seventeen counties, was formed in 1861. Sixteen years later, on 1 August 1876, it was admitted as the thirty-eighth state in the Union.

Taken from Rising, Marsha Hoffman, "Colorado." In Ancestry's Red Book, ed. Alice Eichholz. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992).

About State Censuses:

State censuses were often taken in years between the federal censuses. In some places, local censuses were designed to collect specific data, such as the financial strengths and needs of communities; tallies of school-age children and potential school populations to predict needs for teachers and facilities; censuses of military strength, cavalry horse resources, and grain storage; enumeration for revenue assessment and urban planning; and lists to monitor African Americans moving into the northern cities.

Taken from Szucs, Loretto Dennis, "Research in Census Records." In The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997).

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