There are two types of Census records, nominative and non-nominative. The non-nominative records began in 1792 and ended in 1831. These records counted the male figures and does not indicate the names of individuals, although certain regions did name the head of household.

The nominative census records, also known as recensement or denombrement de la population, began nationally in 1836 and were performed in most communes every five years. Each record indicates the name of each individual in the household and their relationship to the head of household. Each year is different. Some years indicate the birth year, other indicate the birth date. The birth place is also given in others.

Items to be aware of when searching in the census record:

There is not an index for the records

The family will need to be searched for either by the address or on each page

In cities, such as Paris, it is best to know the address

Census records are complimentary to the civil register and can be valuable for many reasons, even though the vital acts can easily be found in the 19th century, the census records are complimentary, and even a good item to help cross check to make sure that all children are found.

Some reasons why census records are useful:

  • A family moves around a lot and they were lost
  • Help determine a time period someone died
  • Shows all living children; perhaps one was skipped over in the TD were born in a different town or a death act was not seen
  • What was the layout of the families living near each other or with each other
  • The Civil register was destroyed

With the census every five years, it is easy to follow and find the family. The evolution of the family can be seen and there may even be surprises along the way. Some children may have left after the age of 16 and resided with another family as a servant (domestique) either in the same village or in another. The census helps reveal the state of the family as a whole at that moment.


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