The 1930 Census enumeration began on 1 April 1930. The census originally spanned 2,667 rolls of microfilm. It’s the beginning of the Depression. This census gives us a glimpse as to how our ancestor’s families might have been affected by this difficult period.
How Was The Census Taken?
The information was recorded by enumerators or census takers. Each enumerator was assigned an enumeration district. They went door to door asking questions of however was willing to speak to them. It could be an adult or child, a resident at that address, landlord, neighbor, etc.
It took approximately 4 weeks to complete. Although enumeration could take weeks to complete, all information was recorded as of 1 Apr 1930. A child born on Apr 3rd will not be listed even if the enumerator visited the house on the 30th of April.
No Original Indexes?
Sorry, we have no indexes! Well, that’s not entirely true. There was no comprehensive index such as soundex or miracode for the 1930 census.
Soundexing was a project of the Works Project Administration (WPA). When the WPA ceased in the early 1940s, so did the soundexing of the 1930 census. Only a handful of states were soundexed. Hawaii and California weren’t among them.
Although there is no government provided index to the 1930 Census like the earlier censuses, several genealogy websites have created their own indexes.
You can try familysearch.org for free access. If you are a member of Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com you can search the 1930 Census there as well.
How Do I Locate My People Without an Index?
Today, there are many online indexes to help you find your ancestors in the 1930 Census. But, what if you can’t find your ancestors in an online index? It’s always good to know how to do things the long way.
Without indexes, a researcher’s job becomes much more difficult. Researching a small town like Kilauea doesn’t create a problem. But, try Honolulu or San Francisco! That’s enough to scare anyone. You could spend a lifetime going through the census sheet by sheet before realizing you’re on the wrong side of town.
It may be that you couldn’t find your ancestor’s name when you searched. Transcription errors exists, for sure!
First, You Need To Know What Street They Lived On
It becomes very important that you have specific information about where your ancestor lived at the time of the census. Knowing the city may not be enough in most cases. The street name is a must and the exact address is even better.
Hawaii is a little more complicated because many individuals lived on plantations and addresses might not be specific. In this case, it’s vital that you learn which plantation your ancestor worked on. One way to figure this out is by looking them up in city directories. You can read more about city directories in the article “Using City Directories to Find the Plantation Your Ancestor Worked On“.
Once you have an address or plantation, the next step is to figure out which enumeration district it falls under. Each enumeration district has a description. Remember:
1. The enumeration district numbers change from census to census.
2. The description does not list the actual streets covered, but the boundaries of the district.
3. Long streets can be enumerated in several enumeration districts. This is where the house number plays a part. If you know the exact address, you can look for cross streets to help pinpoint the right district.
Here are a couple of tips to help you determine the enumeration district:
1. Find your ancestor’s address on current maps. Compare neighboring streets to the enumeration district descriptions.
2. The National Archives (NARA) has district maps for 1930 under “Enumeration District Maps for the Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.” The maps are on microfilm and show the boundaries of each enumeration district. Steve Morse has created a special tool for finding enumeration districts several censuses including 1930.
3. Check previous census records to see if a township is listed. The townships cover pretty much the same streets in each census.
Once you know the enumeration district, you have to go through the census page by page. It’s tedious, but it can be rewarding if you find the person you were looking for.
Where Can I Access the Census?
Your local Family History Center of the LDS Church may have access to the 1930 census. The NARA has all census years in their collection.
Ancestry.com, MyHeritage,com, and other online database websites have the 1930 census for a fee. FamilySearch.org has it for free.
For more information about the 1930 census, read the NARA FAQ at: 1930 Census Facts
This article original posted on yourislandroutes.com in 2002. Revised 2009, 2015.
Copyright 2002-2021 Melody Lassalle – All Rights Reserved