Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Tuesday's Tip: Use the 1930 United States Federal Census

The record collection for the 1930 United States Federal Census is one of my favorite record collections.  It is available in digital format online at:

*  Ancestry.com ($$) - 124,964,021 entries

*  MyHeritage.com ($$) - 125,150,767 entries

*  Findmypast.com (Free) - 123,949,379 entries

*  FamilySearch.org (Free) - 125,180,397 entries

I have no idea why the number of entries are different at each provider.  Perhaps it is because some providers permit an alternate user-provided index entry for enumerated persons.

The description of the 1930 United States Federal Census collection on Ancestry.com says (typical for a state collection):
The 1930 Census contains records for approximately 123 million Americans. The census gives us a glimpse into the lives of Americans in 1930 and contains information about a household’s family members and occupants including: birthplaces, occupations, immigration, citizenship, and military service.
The census can be a valuable tool to use when researching your twentieth-century ancestors because it contains records for approximately 123 million Americans. If you had family in the United States during the early twentieth century, you are likely to find at least one relative’s information within these census records. This makes the 1930 census a good place to start research if you are a beginner, or if your family, vital, or religious records are missing.
The 1930 census began on 2 April 1930 for the general population of the United States. (The enumeration in Alaska began on 1 October 1929.) Regardless of when an individual was contacted, all responses were to reflect the status of the individual as of 1 April 1930.
Enumerators (census takers) collected the following information for each household:
  • Address (name of the street, avenue, or road; house number)
  • Occupant (name of each person and their relationship to head of family)
  • Residence (whether home is owned or rented; value of home; whether home is farm residence; whether home has a radio)
  • Personal (sex, race, age, marital status, college attendance, ability to read and write, birthplace, and birthplace of parents)
  • Citizenship (language spoken before coming to the United States; year of immigration; whether naturalized or alien; ability to speak English)
  • Occupation (trade or profession; industry or business working in; class of worker; whether worked the previous day; line number of unemployment schedule)
  • Military (whether veteran or not; war or expedition participated in)
Note: Individuals in Alaska, and Indians were asked slightly different questions. For example, Indians were not asked about their mother’s country of origin, but which tribe she belonged to.
The 1930 U.S. Federal Census Records Today
In order to protect the privacy of individual citizens, census records are not released publicly until exactly 72 years from the official census date.
Using the microfilm from the 1930 census, Ancestry.com created images of all the available census records. In addition, Ancestry.com indexed all the names in the census so they are searchable online.
Unique Features
  • Servicemen were not recorded with their families in the 1930 census; they were treated as residents of their duty posts. If you’re looking for someone in the military, you should not assume they will be listed in their home town.
  • Children that were born between the official start date of the census and the actual day of enumeration were not included. Individuals that were alive on the official start date of the census but deceased by the actual day of enumeration were included.
  • Indians were included in the enumeration of the general population, though they were asked different questions than the general population.
Here is an example from the FamilySearch census for one person:

I searched each record provider for some of my exact surnames of interest.  The results are:

*  Seaver               2205 (on Ancestry)

                              1984 (on MyHeritage)
                              1984 (on Findmypast)
                              1984 (on Family Search)

*  Carringer 
            403 (on Ancestry)
                                279 (on MyHeritage)
                                279 (on Findmypast)
                                279 (on Family Search)

*  Auble                  486 (on Ancestry)
                                421 (on MyHeritage)
                                421 (on Findmypast)
                                421 (on Family Search)

*  Vaux                    363  (on Ancestry)
                                332 (on MyHeritage)
                                332 (on Findmypast)
                                332 (on Family Search) 

*  Smith 
        1,304,479 (on Ancestry)
1,276,981 (on MyHeritage)
1,276,882 (on Findmypast)
                       1,276,043 (on Family Search)

FamilySearch and Findmypast have the same number of entries for each surname except Smith - I think FamilySearch provided the index and images for this collection to Findmypast and MyHeritage.

Ancestry,com and FamilySearch created separate census indexes using paid and/or volunteer indexers.  The differences in numbers between providers for a specific surname is probably due to some of the providers permitting a user-submitted addition to the index.

It is important to understand what this collection represents and includes.  This collection is paper records created by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1930, copied to microfilm and provided in digital format in 2002 to the digital record providers for a fee.  The record providers then used paid or volunteer indexers to create the different indexes.

These records are Original Source records, with Primary Information (state, county, town address) and Secondary Information (for everything else), and Indirect Evidence of the person's name, age, and other items.

I use this database extensively to find my ancestors, my relatives, and other persons in my family tree.  I usually download the record image to my computer for my ancestors, summarize the information for each person in the household, and enter a Census event for the household, with the official census date, the census place, and craft a source citation.  I add a Note for each person with the location, date, and household summary information, and add a Media item for each person in the household of my ancestral families. 

For those interested in mining this record collection for Hints of persons in their Ancestry Member Tree, the Ancestry.com database number is 6224.  Currently, I have over 3,840 Hints for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree who are indexed in this record collection.  I work on them occasionally, adding content and source citations to profiles in my RootsMagic family tree.  Of course, I have some accepted Hints from this collection already in my RootsMagic family tree and my Ancestry Member Tree, but not many.

I have not attached many MyHeritage Hints to my MyHeritage tree, which is now a year out of date.  On MyHeritage, I have 2,918 pending Record Matches for persons in my MyHeritage tree.


NOTE:  Tuesday's Tips is a genealogy blog meme intended to provide information about a resource helpful to genealogists and family historians, especially in the U.S. online genea-world.

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