Preparing for the 1930 U.S. Census

by Ruby Coleman

It is still winter here in Nebraska, but I look at the flower beds and envision flowers and color, as well as green grass. April will bring warmer weather and plans for the flower beds will develop. This is the fun time of the year when we can browse through flower catalogs and anticipate spring.

This spring will also bring the long-awaited 1930 U.S. Census which will be released on April 1st. The release marks the end of a 72 year privacy period on the decennial census. It also marks another decade of information available for the family historian.

The 1930 U.S. Census will provide information on the street or road, house number or farm; name, age and sex of everybody in the household; whether the home was rented or mortgaged; value of home or amount of monthly payment; color/race; marital status; age at first marriage; whether attended school since 1 September 1929; whether can read or write; language spoken in the home before coming to the United States; year of immigration; whether naturalized or an alien; place of birth; parents' place of birth; trade or profession; type of business of industry; whether worked yesterday; whether a veterans (if so what war); whether owns a radio set.

The additional questions on the census will be supply new information for the researcher. If you are researching American Indians, their degree of Indian blood and tribe's name will be found on this census. However, this information was inserted in the location of parents' birth column. The question regarding radios in the household was asked so the Radio Manufacturers' Association could plan for broadcasting stations.

The 1930 U.S. Census is not fully indexed. There is Soundex available for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. For Kentucky, the counties of Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Perry and Pike are soundexed. The counties of Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, McDonnell, Mercer and Raleigh are indexed for West Virginia.

Because much of this census is not indexed, researchers will need to determine what areas they plan on researching, then resolve to spend tedious time reading the census. For cities, it will be necessary to use maps to locate enumeration districts. The National Archives will have microfilm of enumeration district maps available.

Microfilm of the census will be released at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and its regional branches on April 1st. Libraries will begin receiving the film the week of April 1st. The microfilm will be available when they have it catalogued and prepared for release. Lending libraries will also require a time period in which the preparations are made for the release of the microfilm.

Before you begin using the 1930 U.S. Census, make preparations so your research will be successful. The enumeration date of the census was 1 April 1930. Keeping that in mind, determine which ancestors and relatives you will search for on the census. Look at clusters of relatives in specific areas as well as neighbors. Using your charts and forms, jot down names, dates and locations where they were living in 1930. Use city directories to determine exact addresses for relatives who lived in populated areas.

This census will be very popular. Because of that, expect some delays in obtaining film through rental programs. If you are going to the National Archives, one of their thirteen branches or to a major library, expect delays there also. In the meantime prepare your notes so you will go with sufficient information to begin searching for your ancestor. If you are fortunate enough to have ancestors in counties or states that were soundexed, work out the soundex code ahead of time.

More information on the 1930 U.S. Census can be found at that National Archives web page,

What is next? The 1940 U.S. Census will be released in 2012. In the meantime, enjoy researching the 1930 U.S. Census.

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