Census Year

1920 Census Overview

The 1920 U.S. Census records were collected in January versus the typical spring date in April, to align with the harvesting dates and with the goal of helping census takers capture a higher percentage of the population. During this census year, the U.S. population exceeded 100 million for the first time in U.S. history.

1920 Census Facts

  • Population: 106,021,537 - 15% growth vs the 1910 Census
  • Census Date: January 1920
  • Census Date Released: 2005
  • Number of States Participating: 48 48 (Alaska & Hawaii not yet states) - New states in the 1920 census: Arizona & New Mexico
  • US Territories Participating: Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  • Data Lost: None
  • Separate American Indian Schedule: No

1920 Census Questions Asked

The 1920 Census asked four new questions including the year of naturalization and native language. Due to the border changes after WWI confusion arose around the place of origin. Respondents who declared they or their parents were born in Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia or Turkey, were asked to spell out the city, state, provinces of their origin.

In addition, questions about unemployment on the day of the census or military service in Union or Confederate armies were removed.

  • Name
  • Location
  • Household Data - Number of people, if the house was rented, owned or a farm
  • Relation - of the responder to the head of the household
  • Personal Description - Sex, race, age at last birthday, marital status
  • Education
  • Year of immigration to the U.S.
  • Naturalized? Alien? Year?
  • Place of Birth - noted both US & foreign locations - Father’s & Mother’s place of birth - Father’s & Mother’s native tongue
  • Employment - type of work, if they were a farmer
  • Veteran & Name of war or expedition

Although a supplemental Schedule for Indian Population was recorded, there were fewer questions compared to previous censuses.

Notable Events Between 1910-1920:

Politics & WWI
  • Arizona became the 48th state in 1912
  • On April 6, 1917, the U.S. joined WWI with the Allies and declared war on Germany.
  • On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the war.
Technological Innovations
  • By 1911 the first transcontinental airline began operation from New York to Pasadena, California.
  • By 1913, the first assembly line launched by Ford.
  • The first telephone conversation occurred by Alexander Graham Bell & Thomas A. Watson between New York and San Francisco in 1915.
Sports & Pop Culture
  • Boston’s iconic Fenway Park opened in 1912, Babe Ruth joined the MLB in 1914.
  • In April 1912 the Titanic crashed and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean.

1920 Census Data from GenealogyBank

When researching your ancestors, census records are a great place to start. In addition to general report data such as age, place of birth and marital status, census data can uncover details like whether your ancestor was an immigrant or worked in a specific trade. Discover more about this decade and the lives of your ancestors by searching the 1920 US Census. Then, using the details you find in the census, continue your search with our newspaper archives to uncover their stories. Did they work at the Ford Motor factory or were they featured in local newspaper stories about the impact of the assembly line on their jobs? Find out these and more by searching your ancestor’s name in the 1920 Census.