Thanks to an extraordinary effort made by volunteers and interns, the NYG&B was able to digitize, transcribe and make available the county originals of the 1855 New York State census enumeration for New York City’s 17th Ward in Manhattan. These records have not been microfilmed or digitized elsewhere. According to a note in the Family History Library catalog, when the 1855 Census of the city was originally microfilmed, “Ward 17 was not available to be filmed.” This decision was likely made because the original books were in poor condition. Several pages in book one were damaged (as you can see in the photograph below) and therefore remain only partially legible.
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.