If you are "into" genealogy, you know that finding your family or ancestors in a Federal census is an important step in tracing your roots.
The first Federal census was in 1790, and one was taken every ten years thereafter.
The form you filled out last year for the 2000 census, mailed to your home in most cases, is a giant technological advance from the simple exercise books with hand-lined pages used by the early federal marshals for those first census enumerations.
Each census has reflected the changing need for information about our growing country, and the questions asked have varied through the years.
Think of the census day as a "snapshot" of our country. For one day every ten years, we are counted and totaled. We find out who we are and where we are living, how we are living, what we do. We document our sicknesses, deaths and births, where we came from or when we came, our languages, our reading and writing abilities...and more.
While the immediate questions of population and demographics are accessed as soon as possible after a census, it is 72 years before the general public may access information without restriction.
So it is with great interest that the census of 1930 will become available to researchers and genealogists in April, 2002. Who will you be looking for when you start to turn that reel--grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents...yourself?
Where to find Census Information
The Western Reserve Historical Society, one of the largest research facilities of its kind in the nation, owns all available microfilm copies of every census: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920. These microfilms are available for the public to research--more than 12,000 rolls.
Plans for acquiring the 1930 census microfilm reels of states, territories and possessions was set in motion many months ago. Before the researcher can access this information, however, many things must happen.
Funding for the project is underway but is not yet fully funded. When the purchased reels arrive they must be catalogued, boxed, labeled, and stored in pre-marked cabinets. There are 2,668 of them.
This is no small undertaking! There are only a few 1790 census reels, and the number grows with each census, reflecting our nation's growth both in territory and population. Between the 1920 and 1930 census, the United States population rose by another 17 million people.
Who is in it?
More than 1/4 of Cleveland's population was foreign born in 1930. Those born in Czechoslovakia and Poland outnumbered the next largest country represented: Italy. Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia followed closely behind. Is one of your family among this group?
At the same time, the country was in the midst of a Great Depression, causing families and individuals to migrate while the search for employment went on. The question of unemployment appears on the 1930 census. Is one of your family among this group?
What do they ask?
Here are the questions asked on the 1930 census form:
How do I find out more?
- relationship to head of household
- home owned or rented
- value or monthly rental
- have a radio set?
- whether on a farm
- sex; race; age
- marital status, age at first marriage
- school attendance; literacy
- birthplace of person and parents
- if foreign born, language spoken in home before coming to the U.S.
- year of immigration
- whether naturalized, and ability to speak English
- occupation, industry, and class of worker
- whether at work the previous day (or last regular working day)
- veteran status
- For Indian: whether of full or mixed blood, and tribal affiliation.
Find out more about researching your family by visiting the Western Reserve Historical Society's Library, where the censuses are housed. Learn more about other materials you can find there by logging on to their website
Watch for updates to come about the 1930 census on this web page, and happy ancestor hunting!