Not every researcher knows that FamilySearch does not provide free access to census images for every U.S. Census year.
1) Here is the list of U.S. Federal Census record collections on FamilySearch, and whether there is free access to an image of the records:
* United States Census, 1790 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1800 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1810 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1820 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1830 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1840 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1850 -- free image is available
* United States Census, 1860 -- free image not available - link to Fold3.com
* United States Census, 1870 -- free image is available
* United States Census, 1880 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1890 -- no image link available
* United States Census, 1900 -- free image is available
* United States Census, 1910 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1920 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1930 -- free image not available - link to Ancestry.com
* United States Census, 1940 -- free image is available
When a researcher reaches a search result for a specific person and census year, the result page looks like this (for my great-grandfather, Frank W. Seaver, in the 1920 U.S. Census):
On the right-hand side of the screen, in the box under the "Sources" box, is a notice, as a blue link, that says:
"Explore viewing options."
If you click on that link, then the box text changes to:
The box tells you that the image is available at Ancestry.com, and that fees and other terms may apply. It notes that the image is available if you are using the FamilySearch site at a FamilySearch Center. And that it's available to signed-in members of supporting organizations.
If the user is signed into FamilySearch (need to register), then you can see all but the 1860 U.S. Census images - the site takes you to Ancestry.com IF you have an Ancestry.com subscription. The exception is the 1860 U.S. Census, which is hosted on Fold3.com (if you have a Fold3 subscription, then you're good to go).
There are only four United States Census databases on FamilySearch with FREE access to images, apparently hosted on FamilySearch. There are 10 United States Census databases where the user can go to Ancestry.com to see the images, and one database where the user can go to Fold3.com to see the image.
2) Other image viewing options include websites or repositories with the complete United States Census databases with images:
* Archives.com (with a subscription, owned by Ancestry.com), FindMyPast.com (with a subscription), and MyHeritage.com (with a subscription).
* Users at a FamilySearch Center can access the census images for free at Ancestry.com and download them to a flash drive.
* Users at a repository (public library, National Archives, etc.) with access to Ancestry Library Edition can access the census images for free at Ancestry.com and download them to a flash drive.
* UPDATED: Geolover commented on this post (thank you!), saying;
Free US Population Schedule Census images are available through 1930 at
While not index-linked, if one gets the citation (roll/page) details from FamilySearch, finding the images on archive.org are not hard. The images are often better in quality than those uploaded elsewhere.
* If a user holds a library card to a library that has subscribed to HeritageQuestOnline, then they can use their library card number from home to access the U.S. census image and save it to their computer or to a flash drive.
3) Has anyone asked this question of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org?
"Was FREE access to all of the census images through the FamilySearch website discussed as part of the recent agreement between Ancestry.com and FamilySearch? If not, why not? It's a logical request, and would greatly aid FamilySearch users who are not LDS members. If it was asked, who rejected the idea?"
I recall that, in an earlier agreement between FamilySearch and Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com received the census images for a number of census years from FamilySearch (ostensibly because they were more better images from microfilm?) and FamilySearch received census indexes for some of the census years. Ancestry notes the census years that were obtained from FamilySearch in their source citations for census records.
4) At least FamilySearch provides a list of the household members on their search result page and each household member can be clicked on to see their indexed information. But this doesn't permit seeing the neighbors on the same and adjacent pages, and it doesn't provide ALL of the information available on a census page (address, occupation, home ownership, etc.).
The URL for this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/03/us-federal-census-record-images-on.html
Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver
UPDATE 21 March: I have had several comments that if you are signed into FamilySearch, then you can see the census images (except for 1860) on Ancestry.com. That only works for me if I am signed in to my Ancestry.com account - it doesn't work if I am signed into a non-subscription account on Ancestry, or not signed in on Ancestry at all.. I just tested it, and that's what I found.