*The Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940, (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595) are indexed and available online at and Fold3
Prior to digitization, these records were only available via microfilm publication M595.
However, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs sent a directive in 1885 (Circular 148) that reiterated the statement and added further instructions: "Superintendents in charge of Indian reservations should submit annually, a census of all Indians under their charge." He told the agents to use the plan he had prepared for gathering the information.
There is not a census for every reservation or group of American Indians for every year.
Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under federal supervision are listed on these census rolls. 76, 98) was vague, saying, "That hereafter each Indian agent be required, in his annual report, to submit a census of the Indians at his agency or upon the reservation under his charge." The Act itself did not specify the collection of names and personal information.
Use the online The Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 ( M595, 692 rolls) contains census rolls that were usually submitted each year by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations, to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as required by an act of July 4, 1884 (23 Stat. The data on the rolls vary, but usually given are the English and/or Indian name of the person, roll number, age or date of birth, sex, and relationship to head of family.
Beginning in 1930, the rolls also include the degree of Indian blood, marital status, ward status, place of residence, and sometimes other information.
For certain years--1935, 1936, 1938, and 1939--only supplemental rolls of additions and deletions were compiled.