The federal census records for Florida can all be found in multiple places, including the FHL, NARA, and the Florida State Archives.
From 1565 to 1763 and from 1783 to 1821 the Florida area was controlled by the Spain. Spain took several censuses during both of those time periods. The Georgia Genealogical Magazine translated and published “The 1783 Spanish Census of Florida.” Many of those census records have also been published in other publications and online.
The “East Florida Papers” is a major source of Florida census records. It contains Spanish records from 1783 to 1821, but they are in Spanish. It also contains records for the years of: 1784 to 1786, 1793, 1813, 1814 and 1815.
St. Augustine’s Minorcan residents are mentioned in several census records. The complete “East Florida Papers” and several typescript transcriptions and translations of records can be found in the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History.
In 1824, an act approved by the Legislative Council dictated that each of the counties in the territory would be enumerated. However, only the Leon County records from 1824 still exist. Those records include heads of household, number of white females and white males split into over 21 and under 21 categories, and a listing of slaves owned by each household.
Florida Colonial, Republic and State Censuses
The Spanish took censuses during their periods of colonial control from 1565–1763 and 1783–1821. Most have been published.
1885 Florida was one of five states or territories that took advantage of federal funding to conduct a census in 1885. It includes the special schedules: mortality, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Florida conducted its own state censuses in 1845, 1855, 1867, 1875, 1885, 1935, and 1945.
The 1885 Florida census was funded by a Congressional act, which was passed in 1879, along with censuses in 4 other territories and states. It included special manufacturing, mortality, and agriculture schedules. The schedules are organized according to precinct, district, or city. However, the records for the counties of clay, Nassau, Columbia, and Alachua from that year are missing.
Florida state censuses were taken in each of the following years: 1845, 1855, 1867, 1875, 1885, 1935 and 1945.
The Florida State Archives holds the information from each census that is listed below.
1845 Census – Records for the following counties are extant: Alachua, Benton, Columbia, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Marion, Orange, St. Johns, Walton, Wakulla, Washington. Enumerations from 1845 list the census taker’s name, as well as the number of white females over and under the age of 18. the number of white males over and under the age of 21 is also listed. The number of “free coloreds” and number of slaves are also listed. However, the names of individual household members are not listed.
1855 – Only the enumerations for Marion County from 1855 still exist. The names of the family heads are listed, as are the number of white females under and over 18 and the number of white males over and under 21. The number of children in school is also listed, along with the number of children in family between the ages of 5 and 18. Information about the number and value of both female and male slaves is listed, along with the number of free persons of color in each household. Land information, including furniture, buildings, and livestock, is also listed.
1867 – The only information from the 1867 census is only available still for the counties of Madison, Franklin, Santa Rosa, Orange, and Hernando. The record book lists white and “colored” enumerations separately. Both lists include the heads of households, total number of household members, males under 21, and males between 18 and 45. Females under and over 18 are also listed.
1875 – Only the 1875 records for Alachua county are available. Those records are, however, quite detailed. They include: Names, Ages, Genders, Races, Occupations, Real estate Value, Personal Property, Acres of Planted Cotton, Acres of Planted Cane and Number of Planted Orange Trees.
1885 – Only the records for Leon County are available. They are organized by race. Family members are listed by name, race, sex, and age.
1895 – Only the records for Nassau County from 1895 are available at the Florida State Archives. They were also published by the Jacksonville Genealogical Society.
1945 – All of the records for 1945 in all counties can be found at the Florida State Archives.
The Florida State Archives also holds the original state census records from 1935 and 1945. they can also be found on microfilm in libraries across the state. Those records are organized according to county and election precinct. Those census schedules include: Name, Address, Age, Sex, Race, Relationship to Head of Family, Birthplace, Education and Occupation.
There are indexes available for several counties, including the following: Bay (1935-Partial), Gilchrist (1935), Hillsborough (1935-Partial), Indian River (1935, 1945), Monroe (1935-Upper Keys Only) and Walton (1945).
New additions are added online regularly.
Special Census – Records of two special censuses in Franklin County are still extant. They are censuses of children between 5 and 18 taken in 1855 and 1866. Records of youths of school age are also available from 1896 to 1929
Election Records – There are 2,000 folders of early election records on file at the Florida State Archives. Those papers, unlike land records from the time, required sworn documents probing residency. So, they can be useful to researchers. They are organized according to year and county where they were recorded. They are available to view in person only. They consist of voter rolls. Those rolls list candidates in militia, referendum, state, and congressional elections from 1824. Candidate, clerk, and inspector names are also listed. Voter names and precincts are also listed in all records until 1865.
One of the best post-statehood records of elections for Florida is the May 2, 1845 election record called “Florida Voters in Their First Statewide Election.” The Florida State Archives also has a useful record called 1868 Florida Voter Registration available. That registration was the first open one for African American voters. It also required voters to swear allegiance to the federal government. It lists:Name, Qualifying Date, Race, Length of Residence, Nativity by State, Naturalization.
The records are incomplete, but can be quite helpful to researchers. They are arranged according to county and date.