The United States Federal Census is one of the most widely used resources for genealogists. Online access to the census indices and images is available through a variety of subscription services like Ancestry.com, Archives.com, and HeritageQuest and free sites like FamilySearch.org. But did you know that the census microfilm images are also available online for free through the Internet Archive?
You can browse the census microfilm online from the comfort of your home. You can even download a reel and view it as a PDF on your computer. You can’t search the schedules for your ancestor—there is no index. But if you’re short on cash, here’s a free and convenient alternative to visiting the nearest NARA office or genealogy library.
I was finally able to learn the census schedules from Conestoga, Lampeter, Strasburg and Sadsbury townships from 1820 are missing by viewing the microfilm roll online—something Ancestry’s customer service department apparently did not know.