UPDATE: In the time between when I wrote this post (before our recent cruises) and when it went online, the UVA Library posted a notice with the comment that this site will be shut down on 31 December 2016. Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for alerting me.
I wish I had ancestors who lived in Virginia. At least my husband does, which means I poke around Virginia records quite a bit. I absolutely love the Library of Virginia’s work and now I have a reason to love the University of Virginia now, too.
UVA has created a historical census browser covering U.S. censuses from 1790 through 1960. Remember, only personal information in census records remains sealed for 72 years. However, statistical information is gathered by government agencies as soon as each census window closes.
The UVA Historical Census Browser is a wonderful tool to use when creating a picture of life in a particular place at a particular time in history.
Notice that you can search county and state level data for one particular census year or over a period of decades. Categories of information include General Population, Education & Literacy, Economy/Manufacturing/Employment, Ethnicity/Race/Place of Birth, Agriculture and Slave Population. No data is available for individual localities within any given counties.
Maps of data can also be generated.
What can’t be done is to search for individuals or families because the site contains only statistical data and data can’t be downloaded either. At the very bottom of the page, there is a link to other websites with historical census data.