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A census is a count and description of a population. Censuses have been taken by various governments of Brazil and by some ecclesiastical officials. Census records are not frequently used in Brazilian family history research because better sources such as church records and civil registrations exist.
After compiling statistical information, the original census returns in Brazil were often destroyed. Census records of some areas still exist at regional archives, and some ecclesiastical censuses are found in diocesan archives. Information is given here concerning census records of select states of Brazil.
Bahia State Census
The administrative section of the Bahia state archives (Arquivo do Estado), in Salvador, has 10 volumes of census records (população) for 1890. These records are of children who resided in the parishes of Santo Antônio Além do Carmo, Sant’Ana da Ilha de Maré, São Pedro, Itapoã, and Conceição. You will need to visit the state archives in Bahia to search these records. See Brazil Archives and Libraries for the address.
São Paulo State Census
The São Paulo state archives (Arquivo do Estado in São Paulo) has census records (população) covering 1765 to 1840. These records cover all of the state of São Paulo, which was much larger then than it is now. These records are contained in 226 metal boxes and document complete families, with relationships, ages, residences, and in some cases birthplaces of the individuals.
The following information about São Paulo census records comes from pages 154 to 156 of Lyman De Platt’s book Genealogical Historical Guide to Latin America FHL 980 D27p:
In the archive is a metal box entitled População–- Capital–-Anos 1818–1827––Caixa 36. This box contains seven bundles of census records. Each census record contains basically the same personal information for each person, including given names, ages, nationalities, civil statuses, occupations, and military classifications (for the military census). These bundles comprise:
Military census of 1818 for São Paulo’s nine companies. The census list for each company comprises about 50 folios.
Parish census of 1818 for the state of São Paulo, in 11 bundles of about 50 folios each.
Census of 1822 to 1823 for the state of São Paulo. There are about 650 pages, or 1,300 folios in these three bundles, numbered 2, 3 and 7.
Census of 1825 to 1826 for the state of São Paulo. These records are made up of about 475 pages, or 950 folios in bundles numbered 4 and 5.
Census of 1827 for the state of São Paulo, located in bundle 6, which consists of about 200 pages.
The São Paulo state archives also has other census records of its former region from 1765 to 1858. The information included in these censuses is similar to that in the records described above. These records have not been filmed by the Family History Library and are currently available only through the state archive in São Paulo. Following is a list of these records, listed by localities and years:
Arêas 1817–1825, 1828–1830, 1832–1846
Atibaia-Nazaré 1765–1820, 1822–1826, 1828–1850
Bragança 1798–1816, 1818–1822, 1824–1847
Capital (São Paulo) 1765–1798, 1801–1805,1807–1811, 1813–1827, 1829–1846
Guaratinguetá 1765–1798, 1800–1836
Guarulhos 1765–1798, 1802–1842
Iguape-Xiririca 1765–1825, 1828–1872
Itapetininga 1769–1799, 1801–1850
Itú 1765–1778, 1782–1847
Jacareí-Paraibuna-Sta Branca-Jundiaí 1767–1783, 1785–1842, 1830–1850
Juquirí 1767–1808, 1810–1846
Lorena 1789–1825, 1828–1850
Moji das Cruzes 1765–1777, 1779–1799, 1801–1820, 1822–1850
Moji Guaçú 1765–1846
Moji Mirim 1765–1787, 1789–1799, 1801–1818, 1820–1830, 1832–1850
Parnaíba-S. Roque 1781–1818, 1820–1825, 1827–1858
Piracicaba 1822–1828, 1832–1850
Porto Feliz 1797–1811, 1813–1825, 1827–1843
Santo Amaro 1765–1802, 1804–1847
Santos 1765–1799, 1801–1822, 1824–1846
São Bernardo 1776–1846
São José dos Campos 1803–1818, 1820–1847
São Luiz Paraitinga 1775–1843
São Sebastião 1765–1850
São Vicente 1765–1846
Sorocaba 1777–1783, 1785–1810, 1812–1829, 1835–1846
Taubaté 1765–1786, 1789–1799, 1801–1810, 1812–1820, 1822–1836
Vila Bela 1806–1855
Paraná State Census
Census records for the state of Paraná are housed in the Arquivo do Estado in São Paulo. These records have not been filmed by the Family History Library. They include records for the following municipalities:
Antonina 1798–1826, 1828–1835
Castro 1789–1820, 1822–1846
Curitiba 1765–1798, 1800–1806, 1809–1822, 1824–1846
Paranaguá 1767–1799, 1801–1850
Príncipe 1806–1818, 1822–1850
References to Polish census records for the southern part of Brazil may be found in:
Arquivos Para a História do Brasil Meridional (Archives of the History of Southern Brazil). Curitiba, Brazil: (Papelaria Requião Ltda.), 1971. FHL 981.6 B4b no. 14.
Information about Italian and Polish immigrants in southern Brazil can also be found in the Arquivo dos Padres da Congregação de São Vicente de Paulo (Archive of the Priests of the São Vincente de Paulo Parish) in Curitiba, Paraná.
Searching Census Records
When searching census records it is important to remember the following:
- Information may be incorrect.
- Accept the ages with caution.
- Given names may not always be the same as the names recorded in vital records.
- Names may be spelled as they sound.
- Place names may be misspelled or spelled phonetically.
- If the family is not found at a suspected address, search the surrounding area.
- Parts of some censuses are indecipherable.
When you find your ancestor in one census, search that same location in the earlier and later census records for additional family members.
Searching in Big Cities
Finding your ancestor’s family in the census records of a large city and learning the street where the family resided will also enable you to search other records such as church records and civil registrations.
If possible, determine your ancestor’s address for the time period of the census you are searching. Sources that sometimes give street addresses for cities in Brazil include:
- Civil certificates of births, marriages, and deaths.
- Church records of christenings, marriages, and burials.
- City directories from various years (see Brazil Directories).