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1930 Census Overview

The 1930 Census remained relatively consistent in the 1910 and 1920 census reports, however there were a few notable changes. The biggest difference was in racial classification. Mulatto was no longer used and for the first and only time, “Mexican” was used as a race on the census form.

Additional census data questions also reflected the changing American culture including the impact of technology, specifically the radio, and shift towards accepting divorce and multiple marriages.

  • Year of naturalization was no longer included, only if someone was naturalized.
  • Included the value of home/monthly rent- earlier census questions only asked if someone owned or rented a house.
  • Inquired if the home had a radio
  • Specific wars men fought in, such as the Civil War
  • Age at time of first marriage

As the 1930 Census was conducted a year after the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the census included a new Census of Unemployment to understand the impact of the crash.

1930 Census Facts

  • Population: 123,202,624 - 16.2% increase compared to the 1920 Census.
  • Census Date: April 1930
  • Census Date Released: 2002
  • Number of States Participating: 48
  • US Territories Participating: Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Data Lost: None
  • Separate American Indian Schedule: Yes

1930 Census Questions Asked

  • Name
  • Location
  • Household Data - Number of people, if the house was rented, owned or a farm, value of the home
  • Live on a farm at time & a year ago.
  • Relation - of the responder to the head of the household
  • Personal Description - Sex, race, age at last birthday, marital status
  • Education
  • Place of Birth - noted both US & foreign locations - Father’s & Mother’s place of birth
  • Employment - type of work, actually at work, unemployed
  • 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 of A Changing Society 1920-1930:

Political Events
  • Women won the right to vote in 1920 & in 1925 Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first female governor.
  • In 1921, the Emergency Quota Act significantly reduced the amount of eastern and southern European immigrants settling in the United States.
Sports & Pop-Culture
  • In 1920, the American Professional Football League was formed, to become known as the NFL in 1922.
  • The first movie with sound, The Jazz Singer, is shown in 1927.
  • In 1924 the first Winter Olympic Games were held and the U.S. won four medals.

Genealogy Records from GenealogyBank

Channel your inner genealogist and discover what life was like for your ancestors living from 1920 to 1930. Were your family members involved in the Harlem Renaissance or the Women’s Suffrage Movement? Use the 1930 Federal Census records and our database of exclusive newspaper archives to find out how this historical decade shaped your ancestors’ lives.

About the 1930 United States federal census

The official census date for the 1930 US census was April 1, 1930. However, the 1930 census began on April 2, 1930 for the general population of the United States, while the enumeration in Alaska began on October 1, 1929. Regardless of when an individual was contacted, all responses were to reflect the status of the individual as of April 1, 1930. It included the 48 states as well as Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Consular Services, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Unlike the previous census that asked "if naturalized and the year of naturalization”, the 1930 census asked only if the person was naturalized. Plus, the schedules also included the value of the home or the amount of rent paid each month. A few other differences between the 1930 fed census and previous censuses included responses to whether the home had a radio, a person's age at the time of his or her first marriage, and which specific war a man fought in.

This is the last census in which individuals were asked whether they could read or write. Also, it is the only census to ask whether the occupants of the home owned a radio. Based on the 1930 census records, the average number of people in a household was 4.1, while the average life expectancy for an American was recorded to be 59.7 years.

After filming the census in 1949, the Bureau of the Census destroyed the original 1930 census records. The 1930 population schedules are reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication T626.

What can we learn from a 1930 census search?

The 1930 federal census (column 31) indicates Civil War veterans with the abbreviation "CW." It also indicates military service in other wars with "Sp" for Spanish-American War, "Phil" for Philippine Insurrection, "Box" for Boxer Rebellion, "Mex" for Mexican Expedition, and "WW" for World War I. The 1930 census (column 8) also indicates the value of home, if owned, or the monthly rental, if rented.

In the census of 1930, servicemen were not recorded with their families. In fact, they were treated as residents of their duty posts. So, if you’re looking for someone in the military, you should not assume they will be listed in their hometown. Children that were born between the official start date of the census and the actual day of enumeration were also not included in the household records. However, individuals that were alive on the official start date of the census but deceased by the actual day of enumeration were included.

The US census records for 1930 also lend us important insight into the history of racism and how views and thoughts on race in America have changed decade to decade. For example, in the 1930 census, Native Americans were included in the enumeration of the general population, but were asked different questions than the general population. The 1930 census instructions for enumerators stated that people who were white/Native American were to be counted as Native American “except where the percentage of Indian blood is very small, or where he is regarded as a white person by those in the community where he lives”. Until 1930, Mexicans, the dominant Hispanic national origin group, had been classified as white. A “Mexican” race category was added in the 1930 census, following a rise in immigration that dated to the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

Why are census records important?

The census records help the Federal Government and other decision makers determine how to disperse billions of dollars in funding each year. Using Demographic Data from the Census as well as other Census Bureau surveys, decision makers can analyze states, counties, cities, towns, villages, and even blocks to best determine where funding is needed. This aid goes to school, firehouses, hospitals, and many other vital institutions that otherwise would not be able to operate. It is also used to plan for and fund larger nationwide programs such as public health initiatives and infrastructure programs.

US census records provide data on the National, State, and Local levels that help define who we are as a nation and the makeup of the people that live in the country. Data on race, age, population, sex, housing, and more are gathered by the census. This data is used by governments, non-profits, and other agencies to get a better understanding of their communities and how to best serve an ever-changing country.

What can 1930 census records be used for?

The US Census of 1930 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 1930 census records 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 this data. This makes the census records of 1930 a good place to start research if you are a beginner, or if your family’s records are missing.