Thanks to an extraordinary effort by volunteers and interns, the NYG&B is making available online, for the first time anywhere, the 1855 New York State Census for New York City's 17th Ward, located in Manhattan.
According to a note in the Family History Library catalog, when the 1855 Census of the city was microfilmed, "Ward 17 was not available to be filmed." Apparently this decision was made because the original returns were in poor condition. Since it was excluded from the now widely available microfilm, the Census for Ward 17 has been available only in the original books at the New York County Clerk's Division of Old Records, which kindly gave permission for it to be scanned and digitized.
Four books comprise this portion of the Census. Book One and Book Two are now available in our eLibrary, and the remaining books will be posted shortly. NYG&B’s team of indexers is in the process of creating a searchable index. Meanwhile, Book One may be searched by family name. You may view images of the pages of either book to look for an individual by street address.
The 1855 New York State Census asked many genealogically pertinent questions of those enumerated, some of which the federal census would not ask until decades later, including the family relationships of persons enumerated with the head of household. Ward 17 was often the first home of new immigrants who arrived in the middle of the 19th century. Commonly referred to as the Lower East Side, Ward 17 was bounded on the north by 14th Street, on the east by Avenue B and part of Clinton Street, on the south by Rivington Street, and on the west by the Bowery and a small part of Fourth Avenue—a very large swath of the city.