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State censuses rank with federal censuses as a major genealogical resource, but, because they were taken randomly, remain a much under-utilized resource in American genealogy. State censuses not only stand as substitutes for some of the missing 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1890 censuses (as well as many county and statewide enumerations lost or destroyed between 1790 and 1890) but also as valuable population enumerations in their own right. Many state censuses, for example, asked different questions than the federal census, so they record information that cannot be found elsewhere in federal schedules.
Ann Lainhart's inventory of state census records is the first comprehensive list of state census records ever published. State by state, year by year, often county by county and district by district, she shows the researcher what is available in state census records, when it is available, and what one might expect to find in the way of data. In this way Ms. Lainhart has removed one of the last uncharted territories in American genealogy, opening up a range of fresh opportunities for the researcher.