are popular with genealogists. They name almost everyone in locality and
often include important information about household members. Most family
historians are familiar with United States decennial censuses, but may
overlook them when searching for ancestors in European records.
Most nations in Europe created census records at some point in their
history. Unfortunately, these records were often destroyed as soon as
statistical reports were compiled. Germany is a case in point. The state
archives of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Schwerin, Germany, has a large
collection of census records naming individuals. Some date from the
first quarter of the seventeenth century.
Other parts of Germany Saxony, for example have only
statistical abstracts from censuses conducted as early as the middle
of the eighteenth century. Few European censuses are indexed, requiring
searchers to examine all census entries from the appropriate locality
and time period.
Denmark's earliest census was taken in 1769, but the second census
in 1787 began the practice of naming individuals and recording facts
about them and their families. Like most European censuses, Danish censuses
are not indexed, but are worth searching for important information about
ancestors and their families.
Genealogists should remember that Schleswig-Holstein, Germany was
part of Denmark until 1864. Sweden and Norway have census-taking traditions
similar to Denmark, but began recording individual information about
one hundred years earlier. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City,
Utah, has microfilmed many of these censuses.
England's census-taking traditions also begin in the eighteenth century.
These enumerations are statistical in nature until 1841, at which time
census takers were required to list all members of each household, and
record facts about them. Similar censuses are found in other parts of
the now defunct British Empire, including Canada and Australia.