Stephen P. Morse , San Francisco
This page has been completely rewritten and reformatted to make it more user friendly. To see the original faq page, click here.
200 How to Find ED Numbers
250 Viewing Microfilms
300 Limitations and Explanations
400 Technical Difficulties with Website
101. What is an ED?
ED stands for Enumeration District. An enumeration district is
defined by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as a
"basic geographic area of a size that could be covered by a single
taker (enumerator) within one census period."
102. Why do I need to know about EDs?
In all censuses since 1880, the information is arranged by ED in the actual census microfilms. Therefore in order to locate a person, you need to know the ED in which that person resided in the year the census was taken. Determining the ED may or may not be difficult, depending on where the person lived.For 1880, 1900 and 1920, NARA has a name index based on a soundex system for the entire country. But they have name indexes for only families with children 10 years or younger in 1880, for only 21 states in 1910, for only 12 southern states in 1930, and none in 1940 . For those states having a name index, you need only look up the name in the soundex film and you can see the ED number (as well as the sheet number and line number) immediately. For other states, you will need to know more precisely where the person lived. Then you will need to find the ED that corresponds to that location. That's where the information on this site may be helpful.
The states that have been name-indexed for 1910 are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.The states that have been name-indexed (using a soundex system) for 1930 are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, parts of Kentucky (Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Perry, and Pike Counties), Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and parts of West Virginia (Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, and Raleigh Counties).
There is an urban legend that goes as follows. The indexing process was started during the depression years when the government was trying to create jobs. After the United States entered World War II, the country found more productive uses for its manpower and economic resources than the production of an index to the 1910 and 1930 census. The indexing project was never resumed when the war ended.
But additional digging indicates that the true reason is the following:
Indexing of the 1880, the 1900, and the 1920 Census was done in the late 1930s and early 1940sAround 1935, pressures from various laws (Civil War Pension laws starting 1907, Railroad Pension laws, and finally Social Security) forced the Census Bureau into the business of establishing peoples ages. The same thing happened again in the 1960s with an increase in medicare claims. The southern states had a high number of poor individuals without birth certificates, and these states were targeted for indexing. The 1930 Census was done in 1967 and 1968 in Pittsburg, Kansas. The 1910 census was also indexed in the 60's.
The US government has no plans to produce such indexes. However, once the census films are made public, it will be possible for private firms to index the names. This has already happened for the 1790-1930 census years. However the commercial indexes are available only on a paid-subscription basis. Furthermore, several non-commercial organizations are in the process of producing name indexes for certain years.For 1940 the National Archives (NARA) will put the 1940 census images online rather than producing microfilm. It is not known at this time as to when a name index will be available for it.
This site does not contain information about individuals named in the 1880 to 1940 censuses. It does however help you find the ED so that you can locate a person in those censuses.
This website is most useful when you can't find a person on the census by a name index but you know where the person lived. It presents an interactive interface for the major cities that allows you to "compute" the ED. Due to lack of resources, not all cities are covered (see question 302). However for 1920 and 1940 we have an alternate way of finding EDs -- see our 1920/1930/1940 ED conversion utility.
For those cities and rural areas that are not covered by this
you can use the One-Step
ED definition tool to find the appropriate ED and roll number.
107. What's the difference between this site and the 1930 NARA site?
NARA's website, specifically their 1930 Census Microfilm Locator, is an extremely useful resource that has descriptions of all the enumeration districts in the country (approximately 120,000 of them). The NARA 1930 database has been incorporated into the One-Step ED Definition Tool on the One Step website.
However the 1930 large-city descriptions on this One-Step site are much more detailed than those found on the NARA site. While the NARA site includes only the names of the boundary streets for an ED, this One-Step site includes every street that is part of the ED. This should make it easier to find the ED when you know the street address. (Note that the NARA description drops the County prefix from the ED number although the format of a 1930 ED is the County prefix, a hyphen, and then a specific number. The One-Step descriptions for 1930 always shows the entire number.)
For 1930, the One-Step site also shows the NARA boundary
as a convenience, and as a check on each ED's coverage. The NARA
boundary streets and geographical features are shown in the following
traversing the enumeration district -- north, east, south, west.
108. Where was the data for this site obtained?
The interactive interface presented here is based on the data that was transcribed by Dr. Joel Weintraub with the help of many volunteers.
The 1940 data was obtained from NARA film T1224, ED maps from NARA film series A3378, and for some cities we produced census district maps and transcribed the streets from those.
The 1930 information was gathered from NARA films like T1224, M1931, M1930, and A3378, the census schedules themselves, as well as from drawing census districts on old maps and transcribing streets from that drawing.
The 1920 and 1940 conversion data was obtained from the information on NARA's 1930 and 1940 ED descriptions.
The 1910 information was transcribed from NARA M1283, and the Family History Center (LDS) Microfiche 6101340 and 6104151 (by permission). Some of the cities were transcribed directly from the census schedules, and others from ED maps on NARA A3378 and FHL microfiche maps. NARA film T1224 was also used for the ED descriptions.
The 1900 information was transcribed from ED maps from NARA A3378, the census schedules themselves, ED descriptions on T1210, as well as drawing census districts on old maps and transcribing streets from that drawing.
The 1880 data was donated by John Logan from the Sociology
Department of Brown University.
109. When are the censuses available for viewing, and where?
By federal statute, the census is sealed for 72 years for privacy
So on April 1, 2002 the 1930 census became available for viewing at the
National Archives building in Washington DC and at the NARA Regional
facilities; the 1940 census will also become available on April 2,
2012 and will be accessible online when it is made available.
The following census finding aids should be available at the NARA
microfilm publications T1224, M1283 (1910 only), M1931 (1930 only),
(1930 only), A3378 (1900-1940 maps), T1210 (1900 only), and other
aids. The 1940 ED definition films (T1224) and the 1940 ED map
images (A3378) are on the NARA website and are accessible through
various One-Step tools (ED
Definitions Tool for the T1224 films) and ED Maps Tool for the A3378 films) .
The microfilms may also be purchased from NARA by going to https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline/start.swe).
Various libraries have ordered copies of either the entire census or particular states or counties.
The LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City also has copies of the census films through 1930. The ED description films, microfilm series T1224 and T1210 (for 1900), may be ordered through local Family History Centers as US/CAN Film 2261275 through 2261304.
A number of changes will occur for the release of the 1940
For one thing, it will be digitized and online; there will not be any
produced. For more information, see the
National Archive's discussion of 1940
110. How was sampling done in the 1940 census?
Up until 1940, every question was filled in for every person.
In 1940 the decision was made to start sampling -- that is, asking a
basic set of questions to everyone and additional questions to a
random few. This was the death-blow of the census for
genealogists, because from this point on the basic questions contained
less and less information.
The blank form displayed on the National Archives website shows that
the lines are numbered from 1 to 40, and that those person's whose
names appeared on either line 14 or 29 were asked additional
questions. This quickly led to the misconception that the only
people sampled were those who fell on lines 14 and 29. Well
that's true 40% of the time. For the next 40%, consider the back
of the form. There the numbers go from 41 to 80, so there is no
line 14 or 29. In that case, lines 15 and 68 were used as the
sampling line. But that gets us up to only 80%. There were
four other form styles, each with different lines singled out for
sampling, and each used five percent of the time. That was done
so as to keep the sampling random. The actual lines sampled on
these other four forms are:
lines 1, 5, 41, 75
lines 2, 6, 42, 77
lines 3, 39, 44, 79
lines 4, 40, 46, 80
Our reference for this is Robert Jenkins' book titled "Procedural
History of the 1940 Census of Population and Housing," page 21.
200 HOW TO FIND ED NUMBERS
201. My state has been name-indexed. How do I find the ED number?
Your first step is to generate the soundex code for the surname you are interested in. Click here for a website that generates soundex codes.
Next you need to know the roll number of the appropriate soundex microfilm roll. These rolls are arranged by state and ordered by soundex code within each state. The soundex roll number can be found on the NARA website.
You then fetch the soundex roll and scan through it until you get to
the soundex code you are interested in. The entries under each
are ordered by first name regardless of the actual surname. When
you get to the entry for the person you are looking for, you will see
ED number in which the person is located, as well as the person's
202. My state has not been name-indexed and I don't know the address of the person I want. What do I do?
In this case it is necessary to know the precise location that the person lived at when the census was taken. If the person lived in a city or urban area, a street address will be most helpful. For more rural areas, it is necessary to know the county and the name of the town or township.
To help researchers find the address where a person was living in 1930, NARA has purchased an extensive set of city directories for the years close to 1930. These city directories, which are not government records, are available at all the NARA branches. A complete list of the cities and years for which city directories are available can be found at http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/1930/city-directories.html. The private companies which compiled the city directories tried to include every male of employable age, workers under the age of twenty, male students, working women, widows, and girls of marriageable age.
Furthermore, old city directories and telephone books are generally available in the reference sections of public libraries in large cities and most library reference departments will check a name for free or at a nominal cost; often the request can be made on line or by telephone. This avoids having to use NARA.
The city directories are also available through the Family History Library. See http://users.starpower.net/drkehs/census/citydirs/fhscitydirs.htm for a list of their holdings. Another useful list of available city directories is at http://www.uscitydirectories.com/index.html. See also http://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/ for as complete a list of city directories as possible.
Other potential sources for a person's 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, or 1940 location are: Social Security applications, old letters and envelopes, telephone directories, death certificates, birth certificates, naturalization papers, ship manifests, wedding certificates, school records, religious records, voter registration, and U.S. Census records from other years.
See also question 10 on the frequently-asked-questions
page associated with the 1920/1930/1940 converter utillity.
203. My state has not been name-indexed. However I do have the address of the person I want. How do I find the ED number?
For 1930, you can use NARA microfilm series M1931 which consists of seven microfilm rolls that contain address-indexes for certain cities. The address-indexes convert street addresses to ED numbers. Unfortunately there are only certain cities for which such address-indexes exist. These cities are:
|Akron OH||Chicago IL||Elizabeth NJ||Kansas City KS||Oklahoma City OK||Queens NY||San Francisco CA|
|Atlanta GA||Cincinnati OH||Erie PA||Long Beach CA||Omaha NE||Reading PA||South Bend IN|
|Baltimore MD||Cleveland OH||Fort Wayne IN||LA County CA||Paterson NJ||Richmond NY||Tampa FL|
|Berkeley CA||Dayton OH||Gary IN||Manhattan NY||Peoria IL||Richmond VA||Tulsa OK|
|Bronx NY||Denver CO||Grand Rapids MI||Memphis TN||Philadelphia PA||San Antonio TX||Washington DC|
|Brooklyn NY||Detroit MI||Indianapolis IN||Miami FL||Phoenix AZ||San Diego CA||Wichita KS|
|Canton OH||Newark NJ||Youngstown OH|
In addition to the above cities, address-indexes exist for most of North Carolina.
Also the St. Louis Public Library has compiled an address-index for St. Louis, MO and made it available on-line at http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/libsrc/1930streetguideA.htm. However there appear to be many errors in that work.
For 1910, you can use NARA microfiche series M1283 which contains address indexes to census district numbers for the following cities:
|Akron OH||Chicago IL||Fort Wayne IN||Manhattan NY||Phoenix AZ||Seattle WA|
|Atlanta GA||Cleveland OH||Gary IN||Newark NJ||Reading PA||South Bend IN|
|Baltimore MD||Dayton OH||Grand Rapids MI||Oklahoma City OK||Richmond NY||Tampa FL|
|Bronx, NY||Denver CO||Indianapolis IN||Omaha NE||Richmond VA||Tulsa OK|
|Brooklyn, NY||Detroit MI||Kansas City KS||Paterson NJ||San Antonio TX||Washington DC|
|Canton OH||Elizabeth NJ||Long Beach CA||Peoria IL||San Diego CA||Wichita KS|
|Charlotte NC||Erie PA||LA County CA||Philadelphia PA||San Francisco CA||Youngstown OH|
In addition the Family History Libraries have transcribed Boston MA, Des Moines IA, Minneapolis MN, Queens NY, and Salt Lake City UT.
Every one of the 1910 and 1930 cities mentioned above are supported
on this One-Step website.
204. Same as question 203, but my city is not one of those that has been address-indexed. How do I find the ED number?
If your city is not address-indexed, then translating your address into a specific ED number will take more time. The definitions of which 1880 to 1940 (but not 1900) streets are in an ED can be found within NARA microfilm series T1224, and for 1900 in NARA T1210. In some cases the T1224 listing will show all streets that are contained in an ED, especially for large cities in 1930. In other cases it might show only the boundary streets or, even worse, it might show the political boundaries only. In either case, the procedure entails looking through the definition of each and every ED in the city, and trying to determine if your street address is contained within it. This usually involves constantly referring to a map of the city as you check out each ED. For large cities this could be a very challenging task An alternative to using the microfilm rolls directly is the One-Step ED Definition Tool. But regardless which one you use, the task is non trivial.
This One-Step website was designed to help simplify this process for
larger cities by reducing the number of EDs that need to be
See question 205.
205. How does this One-Step website help me find an ED number?
The website will tell you immediately if you are one of the lucky ones who can search by name using the 1880, 1900 (all EDs), 1910 or 1930 soundex rolls. As soon as you enter the state, and perhaps the county as well, you will be informed if a soundex name-index exists. If so, and you have easy access to the soundex microfilm rolls, you could stop using this website and go look up the person in the soundex rolls. However since you are already at the computer, you might want to go a bit further with the One-Step site and see if you can utilize the data found on it.
You then proceed to specify the city. At this point the website will tell you if your city is address-indexed on the M1931 microfilm series for 1930 or the M1283 microfiche or Family Library Databases for 1910, and will give you the roll number. Again, if you have easy access to these film resources, you could stop using this website and go directly to those resources and find the ED from the address. But it's probably worthwhile to remain on the website a bit longer and see if your city is supported, in which case you can avoid using the film resources altogether.
If you do not fall into either of the above categories, the website will make it easy for you to determine which ED your address falls into without your having to actually scan through the T1224/T1210 microfilm series. And if you did fall into the above categories, you can still use the website to determine the EDs rather than using the soundex or street index files tables on film.
Our website determines the ED for you by consulting tables that were generated from the T1224/T1210 microfilm and other sources. These tables contain all streets that are in each ED for selected large cities. So you enter your street and the website can tell you which EDs that street passes through. If it is contained in only one ED, your task of finding the ED is finished. Otherwise you can enter additional (cross) streets and the website will list all EDs common to those streets. By entering enough additional streets, the website will be able to narrow the possibilities down to only a single ED. If there are still multiple EDs after entering the cross streets, then enter additional streets to complete the closed city block.
Although the One-Step
ED Finder utility started as a search tool for larger cities, we
added two forms for smaller urban areas and rural places. The One-Step
ED Definition tool and the One-Step
1920/1930/1940 ED Finder/Converter utility should help with that
206a. What is meant by cross street and back street?
There are places on the One-Step website where it refers to cross
streets. In this sense, they are streets that you suspect would
in the same ED as the address you are interested in. So it will
probably be the two streets at each corner of the linear block
containing your address. By supplying the street name, and the
names of the two adjacent cross streets, there is a good chance you
will have three streets, all in the same ED. And the One-Step ED
Finder will tell you the EDs common to the streets you have selected.
(Note the use of the terms "linear block" in the paragraphs
above. This reflects the common usage of the term "block" --
i.e., "He lives on the 1400 block of Jones Street." This is not
to be confused with a "rectangular block," which is a closed geometric
There is at least one other street that is probably also in the same ED. That is the fourth street that defines the rectangular city block on which your address is located. We shall refer to that as the back street. So if the ED Finder is still reporting more than one common ED after you have selected the given street and the two adjacent cross streets, try adding the back street to the selected list of streets.Although most city blocks are rectangles, there are also cases in which the city block could be a triangle, a pentagon, or worse. In the case of a triangle, there is no back street, for a pentagon there are two back streets, etc.
See question 206b for details on obtaining the cross and back
If there have been significant changes since your census date, it will be necessary to seek out a map from that time period. Such maps can sometimes be found in city directories. Also local and state historical societies usually have old maps, and will often look up a street on a telephone request.
You can also use the map buttons after you have selected a pair of streets and want to know a third street in order to further narrow down the set of possible EDs. In this case you won't be asked for a house number -- MapQuest or Yahoo Maps will display a map of the intersection of those two streets. Once you've selected a third street, the map buttons no longer appears. The reason is that the mapping services are unable to handle a request containing three streets unless those streets have a common point of intersection.
A word of caution about directional streets such as E 48th
Such streets are listed in our tables with the direction last, so it
as 48th E. However passing such a value to the mapping services
not work as they expect the direction to come first. For that
the street name preceding the map buttons is in an editable field so
can modify it as appropriate.
207. Can you give some examples showing how to use this One-Step website?
Here's one that I received from an actual user of this site. She was trying to determine the ED for 408 41st Street in Camden New Jersey for 1930.
a. From the list of states, select New Jersey. A list of cities appears.
b. From the list of cities, select Camden. A list of streets appears.
c. From the list of streets select 41st Street. The following appears:
A section titled "Selected Streets". In that section is listed 41st Street.So now we know that 41st Street runs through two EDs. To find out which one we want, we need to know the cross street at 408 41st Street.
A section titled "Enumeration Districts Common to all Selected Streets". In that section is listed 4-52 and 4-59
A section titled "View Present Day Map of Neighborhood" with a place to enter the housenumber.
d. In the map section enter the housenumber of 408 and press MapIt. A map appears showing that the cross street at 408 41st Street is High Street.
e. Go back to the street list and select High Street. The following happens:
The "Selected Streets" section now contains both 41st Street and High StreetThe only enumeration district common to both 41st Street and High Street is 4-52, and that should be the ED for 408 41st Street.
The "Enumeration Districts" section now contains only 4-52.
Here's an even more interesting example, this one for my own family. My grandfather lived at 172 Henry Street in Manhattan in 1930.
a. From the list of states, select New York. A list of cities appears
b. From the list of cities, select Manhattan. A list of streets appears.
c. From the list of streets select Henry. The following appears:
A section titled "Selected Streets". In that section is listed Henry Street.So now we know that Henry Street runs through 16 EDs and we need to add some cross streets in order to narrow this list down
A section titled "Enumeration Districts Common to all Selected Streets". In that section is listed 16 EDs.
A section titled "View Present Day Map of Neighborhood" with a place to enter the housenumber.
d. In the map section enter the housenumber of 172 and press MapIt. A map appears showing that 172 Henry is between Rutgers and Jefferson. (The map didn't list the names of the cross streets initially but it did after I used the zoom feature of the map to get more detail.)
e. Go back to the street list and select Rutgers. This reduces the number of common enumeration districts to 4 -- namely 31-13, 31-16, 31-91, and 31-92.
f. Go again to the street list and select Jefferson. Now there are only two common enumeration districts -- 31-13 and 31-92.
g. Go back to the window containing the map that was generated in step d (that window is still around) and find the fourth street that completes the city block containing 172 Henry. It is Madison.
h. Go once more to the street list and this time select
Finally there is only one common ED -- 31-13. That is the result
we were looking for.
208. What if the person I'm looking for resided in an institution?
Institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and even large apartment complexes are sometimes given an ED to themselves. In other cases, institutions are included with other residences by street address. The drop-down list of streets on this One-Step site sometimes includes the names of such institutions rather than actual streets. This generally corresponds to situations where the institution occupies an entire ED.
When an institution has it's own ED number, the One-Step tables may not include the actual streets that bound the institution as being part of that ED. This is not a problem when you are searching for the institution by name rather than address. But you might have an address and not realize that it is an institution with its own ED. In that case, if you select the street name from the dropdown list, you will fail to get the ED number for that instution.
To compensate for this, we sometimes include the insitution in address form in our street dropdown list, with the house number coming after the street name. For example, suppose the Jewish Home for the Aged is at 302 Silver Avenue and is in its own ED. Our street drop-down list would include "Jewish Home for the Aged" and might also include "Silver Ave #302". So if someone was about to select Silver Avenue from the street drop-down list, he would see the special entry for 302 Silver Avenue immediately following the generic Silver Avenue entry, and would know to select that instead.
Here's a hint for finding the ED of an institution when you didn't
it was an institution. Find the ED in the normal manner by
the boundary streets. What you will actually be getting is the ED
of the surrounding area. The ED number of the institution is
the next sequential number. So if you can't find your address in
the ED obtained from the boundary streets, look in the next following
and you might find that it is a named institution.
209. I found the ED number. Now how do I find the person in the census rolls?.
You'll need to know the census microfilm roll number. You can get this is by clicking on the ED button that is displayed on this One-Step website. Then go to the microfilm drawers and fetch the microfilm roll. Go through it, frame-by-frame [see question 209A for a simplification to going frame-by-frame], looking for the ED number, and then within that ED looking for the street you are interested in. Then go down that street looking for the house number. And, finally, go through the listings of all people residing at that house number until you find the person or family you are looking for.
Besides knowing the roll number, it would also be helpful if you knew the ordering of the EDs on the roll. That would simplify things when you are turning the crank to advance through the roll. Contrary to what you might have thought, the EDs might not sequential on the roll. For 1930 you can obtain both the roll number and the ordering of the EDs by clicking on the on the "Microfilms" button at the top of this One-Step ED website. See question 502 for more information about the ordering of the EDs for the other census years.
[Second Thoughts: It is no longer necessary to use the physical
See the 250-series questions below for ways to view
the microfilm roll online]
209A. How can I use block numbers to simplify going frame-by-frame within an ED?
In certain large cities, the EDs are defined by listing the blocks
within the ED -- each such block is identified by the streets
encountered when going around the block. Each such block is also
given an identifying number or letter. You can find these block
descriptions by using the 1880-1940 ED Definitions
Tool and clicking on the "details" link when the ED definition
comes up. For 1940 it's even simpler because you can use the 1940 Unified ED Finder Tool and set the radio
button that appears below the resulting EDs to display the ED
Descriptions rather than the Census Pages when the ED number is clicked
Once you have determined the block identifier for your address, you
can use that to speed up the task of going frame-by-frame through the
census images for the specific ED. At the top of the census pages
is a place for the enumerator to enter the block identifier. Of
course not all enumerators took the time to do so. If the ED you
are looking through has the block identifiers filled in, you would
simply advance through the images until you find the ones that have
your block identifier written at the top. You would ignore all
frames that do not list the block identifier that you want. But
don't stop once you find your block identifier and don't find the house
you want. In many cases the enumerators came back to the same
block more than once, so continue to the very end of the ED looking for
other occurences of that block identifier.
210. Why can't I get a unique ED for 435 E 16th in Manhattan in 1910?
That address has several interesting problems that are of a general nature, so let me discuss it in detail.
Selecting E 16th (actually 16th E as we have it in the list) gives 14 EDs. So you'll need to select some cross streets or other streets that complete the city block. You can typically determine such streets by using the "View present day map" section of the one-step website.
However neither Mapquest nor Yahoo Maps will accept the street name in the form that it appears on the ones-step website (16th E). Yahoo will reject it outright and give you the entire city; Mapquest will give you W 16th. So you'll need to edit the name of the street in our map section to be E 16th instead of 16th E (that's why that field was made editable).
That done, you'll immediately find that the cross street is 1st Ave. Selecting 1st Ave narrows it down to five EDs. So you'll need another cross street or at least another street that completes the city block. Unfortunately 435 appears to be exactly at the intersection according to yahoo (for some reason, mapquest is still giving W 16th even when the E is put first). If you could determine that your address was on the north side of E 16th, you could select E 17th (17th E) as being on the same city block and otherwise you could select E 15th. But a careful look at yahoo indicates that the star is right in the middle.
Most cities follow some rule for east/west streets such as all even addresses are on the north and all odd addresses on the south (or vice versa). (And of course there would be a similar rule for north/south streets.) That means if you knew which side of the street any address was on, you could use that to determine where 435 E 16 is. So arbitrarily pick any odd address, such as 5 E 1st, and map it. Now yahoo and mapquest clearly showed that to be on the south side. That means that 435 E 16th is also on the south side and you should pick E 15th to complete the city block.
Doing that narrows the five EDs down to four. But that's as far as I can take you. I guess you'll have to check all four of them when looking at the microfilm rolls.
(Actually there's one more trick I can play but this is a little ad
hoc. In some cities each hundred starts a new block.
being an older city doesn't follow that rule in general but it does for
this area. I can verify that by mapping 135 E 16th and seeing
it is between Park (a.k.a. 4th Ave) and 3rd Ave, that 235 is between
Ave and 2nd Ave, and that 335 is between 2nd Ave and 1st Ave. The
conclusion is that 435 should be on the next block which according to
map goes into what is known as Stuyvesant Town. Stuyvesant Town
didn't exist back in 1910 and E 16th went all the way through to Ave
Selecting Ave A (A Ave in the list on the one-step site) brings it down
to two EDs. From here on your on your own.)
211. Why do you have three different ED finders for 1940? How do I use them?
For 1940 we decided to present a conversion utility that allows you to convert any of the approximately 150,000 1940 EDs into the corresponding 1930 EDs and vice versa. This was done so that a researcher could obtain a 1940 ED for an address or location by first obtaining the 1930 ED using the tools developed for the 1930 census (NARA website, One-Step ED Finder) and then translating that 1930 ED into a 1940 ED. The coverage would be close to 100% of the 1940 EDs, but the resolution (ability to find a small number of 1940 EDs from a single 1930 ED) wasn't very high.
After we had worked with the 1940 ED description films, it became apparent we could also generate a street index (this 1940 One-Step ED Finder utility) for all cities of 25,000 or more in 1940 from NARA film series T1224. This has a much higher resolution, making it possible to go from an address to a single 1940 ED in most cases in the larger cities. This 1940 ED finder allows you to obtain the 1940 ED for the address in one step.
Next we decided to transcribe the ED definition films for 1940 for all rural areas, and urban areas under 50,000, and included it in our ED definitions utility (EDs of urban areas over 50,000 are defined by their political definitions). That utility defines each census district, usually either as a political entity for rural areas or as boundary features/streets for urban areas. So for smaller urban areas you could, with a map of your target location, and the ED boundary definitions for the area, figure out which ED number contains your address.
If you have a city of 25,000 or more in 1940, we suggest you use the street index method (the 1940 One-Step ED Finder utility). If you are working with a smaller community, use the ED definitions utility or the 1930/1940 ED conversion utility.
For the larger cities you could use both the 1940
One-Step ED Finder and the conversion
utility. You can
the 1940 ED of the address using the 1940 One-Step ED Finder. As
a cross-check you can find the 1930 ED of the address using our 1930
One-Step ED Finder, and then convert that 1930 ED into the
1940 EDs using the conversion
utility. You should find that the conversion
utility gives several ED choices for 1940, and one of those should
ED you arrived at from the 1940
One-Step ED Finder. You should
all the possible EDs from both methods. Then, if you don't find
address on the census sheets corresponding to the single ED you
from the 1940
One-Step ED Finder, you have some alternate EDs to check.
This is covered in much more detail in our Tutorial Quiz.
We strongly recommend going through that tutorial before attempting to
find EDs in the 1940 census.
212. Are there any other ways of finding ED Numbers for Large Cities in 1940?
The ED definitions we show for large cities includes their Census Tract number. Census Tracts are sections of cities that can contain multiple ED numbers. Maps of 1940 census tracts can be found at: http://www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1002206. If you can locate your address on these maps, note the census tract number. Then go to the One Step 1940 ED definition utility (the default is 1940), pick your state and county, and then enter "tract xx" (where xx is your number) in the search box. You should then see the EDs that make up that census tract.
250 CENSUS IMAGES ON-LINE (excluding 1940)
251. How can I view the census images online?
The census images for all years are available online at some commercial websites, and for certain years at some free websites. The 1940 census images will be online for free at the NARA website. Our One-Step website contains links that take you directly to these images, but if it is on a commercial website you will need to have a subscription to that site (for example, ancestry.com subscription).
In particular, if you click on the "Microfilms" button at the top of this One-Step ED website you will get to our Viewing Census Images page. That page allows you to enter any ED and go directly to the census images for that ED. It also allows you to go to any census image on the same roll as that ED.
Another way that you can get to the images is by supplying enough
to determine a unique ED (see question 207). At that time a
will appear that says "View Microfilm". Clicking on that button
take you to our Viewing Census Images
page with your selected state and ED
prefilled for you. And clicking the appropriate button on that
takes you right to the census images in that ED.
252. How do I print out a copy of the census image that I find?
See question 16 on my search-by-name
253. What does the "Quick Display" button do and how does that differ from the "Display" button?
Accessing a census image on the ancestry.com site requires that you know the city name in addition to the state, county, and ED.
The "Quick Display" button will find the city name by consulting tables that I have constructed. Such a table lookup is relatively fast. But as ancestry.com adds more images to their site, these tables will become outdated. I have these tables for 1930 only. For the other years you must use the normal "Display" button.
The normal "Display" will dynamically find the city name by navigating through the ancestry site. It may take a little longer, but it will always find up-to-date information.
300 LIMITATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS
301. What are the limitations of your website?
You should know how the tables on this website were generated. Some information came from NARA's T1224 and T1210 (1900 only) microfilms. The original ED descriptions might have misspellings, might have been on unreadable microfilm frames, or might not have been consistent in how they presented information (E 3rd Ave, 3rd Ave E, etc.). T1224/T1210 rarely indicated if a street was a Street (St). There were "unnamed" streets, extended streets (imaginary lines), topographic features as boundaries (canals, rivers, etc.), and even political boundaries (Ward Line, City Boundary). When transcribing the information into files, typing mistakes may have occurred, or some street names not transcribed from certain EDs. Once you narrow the number of possible EDs for your address using this Website, you can always check on its validity by going to the T1224/T1210 microfilm and looking up the ED numbers.
In some cases we used other methods for generating the tables, such
as reading the streets off of the census, marking maps and reading the
internal streets, transcribing the 1930 M1931 microfilm rolls, and for
1910 using M1283 microfiche and Family Search microfiche street index
See questions 303 and 304 for more details.
302. Why isn't my city listed on your website?
This website includes all cities over 50,000 and at least one city for every state. The 1930 to 1940 ED conversion utility includes all cities.
The website lists all regions for which a soundex name-index exists, and all cities for which an address-index exists (M1931 microfilm series).
It also contains the street lists for all cities (whether the city is indexed or not) of population over 25,000 in 1930, and quite a few that are under this population level. These are the cities for which it would be especially tedious to scan through all the ED descriptions in microfilm T1224 in order to find the ED that contains a particular address. Since our resources were limited, we had to draw the line somewhere. The remaining cities had populations less than 25,000. A city of that size doesn't contain an overwhelming number of EDs and can be scanned through manually. This task should not be too daunting, especially for the dedicated researcher.
Presently, about 120 cities have street-name to enumeration-district-number tables available to transcribe. For certain states we have added some smaller political entities.
Presently we have the top 100 population areas of the United States, and resources to do several other if there is interest and availability of volunteers.
The data for 1880 was donated by John Logan of Brown
University. He had generated the information for 30 of the
largest cities in 1880.
303. Why does the 1930 ED Finder have street lists for cities that are name-indexed (soundexed) and/or address-indexed (on M1931 or M1283)?
If a city appears in the M1931 microfilm rolls or M1283 microfiche series, it would seem natural to want to consult those film resources to find the ED. However many people prefer to do their look-ups online rather than fumble with microfilm readers. Others don't have access to those films even though they have access to the census rolls. For these reasons, we decided to support such cities on this One-Step website.
Similarly, we support some cities that are name-indexed. For
cities it is simplest to use the name-index (on soundex microfilm)
you do not need to know the address. But if the name you are
for cannot be found in the name-index, we offer you the ability to find
the ED using our website if you know the address.
304. Why are some streets that didn't exist in 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930 or 1940 on your database? Why can't I find the street I'm looking for?
Census districts of many cities, mostly the smaller ones, were defined only by their boundary streets, geographical features (creeks, rivers, etc.), or political lines (ward line, city line, precinct line) on NARA film T1224/T1210. In order to create the tables for these cities on our website, we had to fill in the internal streets. We did this by referring to street maps of the city, or street index tables, or other sources. We tried to use maps as close to 1880, 1900, 1910 1930, or 1940 as possible, but in some cases we had to use recent maps. This is why some modern streets appear in our tables.
There are several possible reasons why streets that existed in 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930, or 1940 do not appear in our tables. One possibility is that some of those streets may have changed name or even been removed completely, and therefore not present on the maps we were using. Another possibility is that some of our tables were obtained from the NARA M1931 microfilm or M1283 microfiche which list the street addresses for certain cities. But those microfilms list only the streets on which people lived, so if a cross street had nobody on it, it would not be listed. There is also the possibility that your street was not within that city's boundaries in 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930 or 1940. And of course human error may also play a role.
Another thing to be aware of is that house numbers might have changed since 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930 or 1940 or been completely reassigned (Milwaukee is a classic example, see question 305). If you use the old number on a current map you will get incorrect cross streets. See question 305 for more details.
Here's a tip if you can't find the street you are looking for in the 1930 or 1940 street index. Since the large city street files for 1930 and 1940 were done independently from each other, it's possible your missing street could have been included in the alternate census database. Check the other year's street index (1930 or 1940) and if the street name appears, find the ED number for your address in that year, and then use the conversion button to convert that ED number to the number you want in the census year you are searching.
Also see questions 208, 301, and 307.
305. Are there cities in which the house numbers or the numeric streets have been renumbered since 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930 or 1940?
Detroit: Changed numbering system around 1920.
Milwaukee: This one of the best (or worst depending on your perspective) examples that we know about and it appears to have been completely renumbered. To make dealing with Milwaukee a little less painful, we have constructed a table showing the changes. Click here to see that table.
Portland Oregon: All the house numbers east and north have been changed.
Queens: Changed many street names and house numbers during the 1920s.
Salt Lake City: While all the house numbers stayed the same, the numeric streets have been renumbered in enumeration districts 32 through 62.
West New York, New Jersey: The numeric streets have been renamed to be 44 numbers higher than in 1930. And addresses on the alphabetic streets were changed from the low hundreds to the high thousands.
See also question 308.
306 "ED for Detroit. 382 Tuxedo." ???
Unfortunately I get messages like this a lot. Usually with no other text, not even a signature. Since I get so many of these, I'm sure there's a question in there somewhere, but I don't see it.
I certainly hope I didn't give anyone the impression that I would do
individual look-ups for people.
307. Why can't I find a street name on the actual census that you say exists in that Enumeration District?
There may be situations where we show an ED number for a street name but you won't be able to find that street on the actual census pages. Here are some reasons that might happen:
The street name may have been changed and we used both the old and new street names in our index, but only one of these would be on the census pages.Still another possibility is that the set of census images that you are looking at is incomplete. Whereas the census pages on the physical microfilm rolls (located at NARA, LDS, and other libraries) are supposedly complete, the online images of the pages on some of the commercial sites might not be. We have encountered such a situation on one of the commercial sites. In that case not only could the census image not be found, but the people residing on those missing pages were not in the name index either. To determine if there is a page missing on the commercial site, check if the sequence of Sheet numbers (e.g. 1A, 1B, 2A, etc.) on the upper right of the census images is complete for that ED.
It might be that a street name changed to an already-existing street name. Because of the nature of our database, we couldn't decide in which ED both names should appear. So we repeated both names in every ED that had the existing street name, even if both streets weren't in that ED.
It could be that the original database or our transcription was wrong, and those errors appear in our database.
It could be that street had no population on the census and therefore would not appear on the census sheets.
It could be that we used a map more recent than the census year in question to get a street name, and that street didn't exist in that district on the day the census was taken.
It could be that a geographical feature was one of the boundaries of your target ED, or that the ED boundary line cut through a block (rather than followed a street), and we added the name of the street on the other side of this feature to help with the search engine. Thus that street name would not appear within the actual census ED.
For a city like New York (Manhattan) in 1940, there are a large number of EDs that consist of a single city block cut diagonally. Such EDs would contain only two streets on the census pages. In this case, our algorithm for finding the ED requires that we pretend that all four streets making up the city block be considered as being in the ED, even though two of those streets will not be found on the census pages.
308. What should I do if my street name no longer exists?
Cities grow and change over time. Part of that process may involve changing the street names. The further back in time one goes, the greater the chance that the street has been renamed or the houses renumbered. If you are using the One-Step 1880-1940 ED Finder and can't find the street name on the map that the site links to, it is likely that name no longer exists. In that case, here are some things you might try:
Search on an adjacent street, hoping that it's name hasn't been changed.For some cities there are tables and websites that show street name changes. Some websites that we have found and tables that we have generated are listed on our Street-Name Changes utility.
Research old city directories that often show the relationship of streets to each other, and figure out what the new name might be.
Find old city maps, or request information from library holdings that might have such resources.
NARA has a series of ED maps for 1900 through 1940 on film series
It might be possible to use those maps, if they are clear enough, to
street names and find your changed name and its corresponding ED.
309. Why do I sometimes get no EDs after I have correctly entered the bounding streets for my city block?
Our search system is based on knowing all the street names and boundary features within each ED. If for some reason we are missing a street name or boundary feature from a particular ED, and you enter that street name as one of the boundary streets of your city block, then you will get a message saying there are no common EDs for that set of streets. This could also occur if one of the boundary streets that you select for your block is actually outside of the ED because there is a geographical or political boundary that delimits the ED.
There are several cases in which we might be missing a street name for a particular ED. One case occurs when there has been a name change for the street since the year of the census. In that case we might include only the old (or the new) name in that ED, and you have entered the name we do not show. Another case occurs when our tables were transcribed off of the census sheets themselves, and a street passing through an ED has no population in that ED. In that case the street will not appear on the census sheet although that street is a boundary street for a particular block in the ED. Another reason might be that we simply made a mistake when transcribing the tables or the tables we obtained were incomplete.
If you encounter a situation in which you obtain no EDs after
all the boundary streets for your block, please send us the specific
We'll examine it and if we determine that it is occurring because we
missing a street in a particular ED, we will add it. In the
as a work-around you can try eliminating one or more of the streets
you do obtain EDs. By experimenting you'll be able to narrow it
to a small number of EDs. Although that's not as good as having a
single ED, it's better than having none. You can then look at the
street names within each of those EDs (by clicking on the ED button) to
determine which is the most likely to contain your address.
Be aware that about 45 of our 1900 cities were done mostly off of the census schedules themselves because we lacked good ED boundary maps or adequate street maps for that year. If those transcription were done correctly, all the occurences of streets with enumerated houses were located and transcribed from the census sheets. But it is possible that not all streets within those EDs were recorded. For example, if nobody lived on the street, it would not be on the census sheets. In this case, the 1900 utility might show EDs for your street name, but after you enter an adjacent street, it will show no EDs. In that case try removing that second street and entering another adjacent street to see if you can reduce your choice of EDs. If that doesn't work, then you may have to go through each of the EDs shown for just your original street name. and look for your address.
310. Why can't I find my street address in the ED that you indicate?
Here are several possible reasons for this problem.
A renumbering of the streets may have occurred since the census date.
The census taker might have skipped that address, perhaps because nobody was home. However, at the end of the ED sheets, the census taker usually went back, found missing people, and added them to the end of the section. Always check the end of the ED for missing addresses.
The mapping programs we link to may give incorrect positional information on where the address is. That is why we provide links to more than one mapping program. If you have trouble finding an address within an ED, check the other mapping program to verify that you have the correct streets bounding your city block. You should suspect this problem if you find, for example, only odd addresses for a street in the ED when you expect an even number -- in which case the mapping program put you on the wrong side of the street, therefore in the wrong block, and as a consequence you arrived in the wrong ED.
The geometry of your neighborhood might be such that it confuses the ED finder. One example is when a cross street ends at the street we are interested in and does not intersect the side of the street that our number is on. To illustrate this, suppose we are interested in 123 Main Street and Main Street is a boundary street with the even numbers being in one ED and the odd ones being in another. And suppose that Little Street ends at Main Street on the even side, right across the street from number 123. In that case Little Street will be in the ED that contains the even numbers on Main Street, but will not be in the ED that contains the odd numbers. Therefore, if you enter Little Street in the ED finder, you will eliminate the ED that contains the odd numbers on Main Street.
If you are using an online subscription service to view the census images, there is a possibility that they did not scan all the pages within the ED. In that case, the people on the missing sheet will also not be in their name index. Always check to see that all census sheets are within the online ED. The sheets start with 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. Also, the "A" pages usually have a stamped number at the top of the page (e.g. if 1A is #271, then 2A is #272). Either of these numberings can be helpful in seeing if a full sequence of pages is present. If online pages are missing, then try to see the same ED on another subscription service or view the physical census microfilms at NARA or at a FHL.
400 TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES WITH WEBSITE
401. Your website does not finish loading, or it fails to work correctly. What could the problem be?
I've been asked that question several times recently, and each time the problem was in the user's browser. Specifically, the copy of my webpage in the browser's cache was bad and that bad copy was what was being displayed when you thought you were visiting my site. The problem can be fixed by clearing the cache in your browser.
Here's how to clear the cache if you are using the Microsoft IE browser:
From the tools menu select "internet
That should open up a window with several tabs across the top
Make sure you are in the "General Tab"
The pop-up should have three sections
The middle section is labeled "Temporary Internet Files"
That section has two buttons
The first button is labeled "Delete Files"
Click on that button.
Then try to visit my site again.
And here's how to clear it when using the Netscape browser:
From the edit menu select "preferences"
That should open up a preferences window with several choices on the left side
Click on the plus sign in front of "advanced" and several choices will appear below it
Click on the choice that says "cache"
The right side of the window has a button that says "Clear Memory Cache" and another that says "Clear Disk Cache".
Click on both buttons.
Click on OK to close this preferences window.
Then try to visit my site again
402. Why can't I open the street list for LA? When I try, it opens in the middle of the list and everything freezes.
I have no idea why this problem is happening. I have gathered information from the people who are observing it and it appears to be occurring only on a Mac (PC users are not experiencing it), only for LA (all other cities work fine), and only with certain browsers (Microsoft's IE browser and Netscape's 4.x browsers have the problem whereas Netscape 6.x does not). So until I learn more about the cause, my recommendation is that you either (1) install Netscape 6.x or 7.x, (2) buy a PC, or (3) move out of LA. ;-)
By the way, this problem has now been reported for Boston and
other cities as well.
403. Is there a problem using your city dropdown lists from webTV? I am not able to get it to work.
Apparently there is a problem because I've already received this complaint from one person regarding the census site and from numerous people regarding my Ellis Island site. But I can't imagine what it could be. Whatever the problem is, it is not due to my sites. My sites works with every other internet provider and with all commercial browsers. If anyone has any more information about what the cause of the problem is, I'd be very interested in hearing from you.
For what it's worth, one person told me that they contacted webTV
the problem and were told that "webTV is unable to take a lot of
(whatever that means)."
404. I only get the top part of your webpage and the printing is very large. What could the problem be?
My first thought when I was asked this question is that it was a cache problem (question 401) or a mac problem (question 402) but neither of these turned out to be the case. Finally discovered that it was caused by the resolution. The user had her screen resolution set to 640x480. When she changed it to 800x600 she reported that it worked fine.
You change the screen resolution on windows by going to the control panel and clicking on the display icon. Make sure your resolution is at least 800x600 or higher.
I had another person report getting only the top part of the webpage
(although the printing was normal size) and his resolution was indeed
enough. After considerable experimentation, he finally discovered
that his firewall was the problem. When he removed the firewall,
the entire site loaded. I can't explain why that should be so (I
use a firewall and have no problems) but thought I would pass along
information in case anyone else encounters the same problem.
405. Is there a problem using your website with a Mac?
Yes. See question 402 for details. See also question
406. Why do I get an error message for the (non-existent) page http://stevemorse.org/census/1930cities/text/html?
That will happen if you are using the Safari (Mac) browser and you clicked on one of the ED buttons to get a list of streets in the ED. There may be some other set of events that will get you to to a similar non-existent page error message as well.
This turns out to be a very serious bug in the Safari browser and I'm surprised that more websites aren't failing because of it. I recommend that you try using another Mac browser such as Internet Explorer.
Here's is what is happening. My code has a line in it that reads
That is supposed to open a frame and insert into it a page of type "text/html". Now there is another kind of open command that has the form
and in that case the first parameter is the url of the page that is supposed to be opened. For some reason the Safari browser is treating the document.open command as if it were a window.open command and in that case it is looking for the page at url "text/html". Since you were at stevemorse.org/census/1930cities when you executed the command, the specific page it tries to open is stevemorse.org/census/1930cities/text/html. Hence the error message.
501. Will I be able use the website while I am doing research at NARA?
Most if not all NARA branches provide computers with Internet
for use by patrons. If in doubt, call the branch before visiting.
502. Where can I find more websites involved with determining EDs and with searching the census?
The official NARA website for the various census years is at
1940: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/index.htmlIn addition there are websites devoted to the census for specific areas of the country. Here are a few:
Cook County, Illinois:
St. Louis County, Missouri:
http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/libsrc/1930streetguideA.htm (see comment in question 203)
http://nvshpo.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1278&Itemid=382 (provides a name search for years between 1860 and 1920)
503. Can I use your website to find an ED number corresponding to an address for 1920?
Our website provides some help for 1920. For small population areas, use our 1880-1940 ED Definition utility, setting the census year to 1920. For larger cities, we recommend a different strategy.
Enumeration District boundaries and numbers change with each census year. In general, knowing the ED number for one census year won't help you find the ED for the same address in another year. The exception to this rule is that NARA microfilm publication T1224 does attempt to show how 1930 EDs relate to 1920 EDs. For each 1930 ED description, there is a column that shows which 1920 EDs covered the same area. Typically, each 1930 ED consists of parts of several 1920 EDs.
If you have a 1920 address, the chances are pretty good that the address was in the same place in 1930, unless the houses were re-numbered, or the buildings were torn down or burned down. So to find the 1920 ED for an address, first find the 1930 ED for the same address using the information from this site. You could then consult the appropriate roll of NARA microfilm series T1224 (rolls 61 to 90) to find the corresponding 1920 ED's.
This method may be difficult to apply in some cases because parts of the T1224 microfilms are sometimes hard to read, especially the column that has the 1920 ED numbers.
[Second thought: We have created a new website to automate the
just described for converting from 1930 ED to 1920 ED. Click here
to go to that website. Or, better yet, first use the current
to find the 1930 ED and then you'll be presented with a button to take
you to the new website with the correct information pre-filled for
504. Besides this website, how else can I find ED numbers for the 1910 census?
Just as the NARA M1931 microfilm series is an address-index for the
1930 census, there is a similar resource for the 1910 census. It
is NARA microfilm series M1283 and is a cross index for selected
The cities covered are:
|Akron OH||Cleveland OH||Erie PA||Long Beach CA||Patterson NJ||San Antonio TX||Tulsa OK|
|Atlanta GA||Dayton OH||Fort Wayne IN||LA County CA||Peoria IL||San Diego CA||Wichita KS|
|Baltimore MD||Denver CO||Gary IN||Newark NJ||Philadelphia PA||San Francisco CA||Youngstown OH|
|Canton OH||Detroit MI||Grand Rapids MI||New York NY ||Phoeniz AZ||Seattle WA|
|Charlotte NC||Dist of Columbia||Indianapolis IN||Oklahoma City OK||Reading PA||South Bend IN|
|Chicago IL||Elizabeth NJ||Kansas City KS||Omaha NE||Richmond VA||Tampa FL|
 The listing for New York City does not include Queens.
For Minnesota, KinSource.com has finding aids for the 1910 census.
In addition the Family History Library has a cross index for 1910 for Boston MA, Des Moines IA, Minneapolis MN, Queens NY, and Salt Lake City UT. These are the resources we used to produce our 1910 One Step ED search utility.
[Second Thoughts: Most of the above material has now been
and is incorporated into this website. So the above material will
not provide any additional information.]
505. How do I buy copies of the 1930 census?
NARA (the National Archives and Records Adminstration) sells the microfilm of the entire census but I have no idea what they charge for it. It's usually sold to libraries. See http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1930/general-faqs.html. I assume you would want to buy an individual roll, and not the 2,600 plus films that make up the actual census records plus the Soundex and T1224 and M1930 and M1931 films.
However you really don't need to buy the census since there are so
places that you can view it free of charge. Many libraries have
as do each of the dozen or so NARA centers scattered across the
If you simply want a copy of the particular page in the census that
your ancestors, then it's usually just a modest xeroxing charge,
on the library that you go to.
506. What do I do if I can't read the headings on the census forms?
There are various websites that have sample census forms on line
are very readable. A few such website are
rootsweb, and ipums.
Perhaps the best resource is at http://www.census.gov/multimedia/www/photos/census_history/historical_forms.php.
Yes they were. The instructions they were given can be found
508. Why are there are missing sheets in my 1940 ED?
The 1940 instructions to the enumerators state that the counters
by labelling their first sheet, which has line numbers 1 through 40, as
sheet "1A", the second sheet with line numbers 41 through 80 as sheet
Then the sequence of A/B pages repeats, with the sequence 1A, 1B, 2A,
..... The enumerators often did a second sweeep of their area, picking
up additional people that they missed previosly. In that case,
were instructed to label the first sheet of this second sweep as
This page then started a second sequence of numbers. Finally,
is a third sequence of numbers on the 1940 sheets. On April 8th
1940, an effort was made to count all people in temporary lodgings such
as "Hoovervilles", flophouses, transient parks, and hotels. Those
names were to be started at the end of the ED pages with a starting
number of 81A.
In order to check for missing pages, look at the top of the "A" sheets. You should see a stamped number. The first census form of a county was stamped with a "1", and subsequent pages stamped sequantially through all the EDs of that county. See if there are gaps in the stamped number sequence, as well as unexpected gaps on the page numbers on the upper right corner of the form placed there by the enumerator. If there are such gaps, there probably little that can be done about it since the original census pages were destroyed after they were filmed.
509. I was born on April 1st, 1940 but I'm not on the 1940 Census. Why not?
You are a victim of a cruel April 1st joke. The 1940 census
enumerators not to count newborns on the census day, April 1st.
is the only census we have seen that has such instructions.
if a person was alive on the census date, they would be counted.
That was the instructions for the 1930 census, but for 1940 they added
a time as well as a day -- the person needed to be alive as of 12:01 am
on April 1st, 1940, which effectively eliminated all newborns on
that day. This instruction can be found in a number of places on
the enumerator instructions and even at the bottom of the population
blank, and unless there was a last minute change of instructions, this
group of people should not appear on the 1940 census.
510. What is on the 1940 Census sheets and how was that census carried out?
The columns expected on the 1940 Census sheets can be found at the following websites (for the purpose of printing the forms, it's useful to know that the dimensions are 23.75" wide by 18.5" high):
http://www.census.gov/pubinfo/www/photos/Histforms/1940/cenform/His40cenFQ.htmlThe procedural history of the 1940 Census can be found at:
http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/enumproc1940.pdfThe 1940 enumerator instructions and some supplementary instructions (Form P-15) can be found at:
http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1940.shtmlSome of the forms used by an enumerator to check on hotel tenant returns (P-8), and a form in the case where a person refused to give his/her wage statement directly to the enumerator (P-16), and the daily report postcard the enumerator was to mail to his/her supervisor (F-100) can be found at:
http://stevemorse.org/census/1940/P-8hotel.jpgThe new 1940 questions were opposed by many, and a boycott of the census was threatened. To counter this, the Census Bureau aired some radio broadcasts called "Uncle Sam Calling." More details on this, as well as transcripts of two of these broadcasts, can be found here.
Joel Weintraub has a growing library of memorabilia on the 1940
If you have additional 1940 items such as census forms or posters, or
episodes of "Uncle Sam Calling" that you can add to this
and that we might post on this FAQ, please contact Joel directly.
511. Where can I find out more information on the census and the national results?
Information on summary statistics can be found at the following site:
http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus/phpSpecific government reports from the 1940 Census in PDF and zip files can be found at:
512. What are the CCC Camps that you show on the 1940 utility?
During the Great Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was started to provide gainful employment for millions of Americans and a way to increase habitat rehabilitation throughout the United States. The 1940 Census gave separate ED numbers, within their County prefixes, to the CCC camps. It appears that the camps were distributed throughout the United States and may have had in excess of 300,000 individuals. These CCC EDs are unique to the 1940 Census, and apparently have no corresponding 1930 ED numbers. To make this conversion utility work, we had to assign them an arbitrary ED number in 1930. So we chose 0-0. (In some cases the 1940 CCC EDs did show a corresponding 1930 ED number, but we ignored that information in our transcriptions since it had no meaning.)
In transcribing CCC camp locations, we found a number that showed no population on the definitions film. The camp could have been closed, but in that case the ED could have been shown as "Void". A possible explanation for this is in the 1940 Enumerator's Handbook where paragraph 327 states that CCC enrollees be counted "at their usual place of residence, and not at the camp in which enrolled, unless they have no other usual place of residence" while employees other than enrollees in a CCC camp would be counted if they slept at the camp. Thus it's possible that enrollees could be double counted on the 1940 census, or not counted at all because of this determination by the enumerator.
Over 1300 CCC camps are contained in our tables. But the actual name of the camp was not transcribed for any of them, just the generic name of CCC.
See the following for further information about this very popular program.
513. Why do some 1940 EDs have letters at the end?
If a 1940 Enumeration District involved more work than a single enumerator could handle, that district was subdivided and assigned to several enumerators. When that happened, letter suffixes were appended to the end of the ED. An example is 16-167A, 16-167B, and 16-167C.
Over 4,500 (out of a total of 150,000) EDs in 1940 were subdivided.
514a. Why do 1930 and 1940 EDs consist of two numbers separated
514b. Why does the number before the hyphen change between the 1930 and 1940 censuses for some locations?
In 1930, the Census Bureau decided to assign two-part numbers to each ED. The first part of the number (prefix) denoted the county within the state, and the second number (suffix) denoted the census district within the county. The ED prefixes were usually assigned sequentially to the counties in alphabetical order, so a county like Adams might be given a prefix of 1. Similarly the ED suffixes were usually assigned in alphabetical order by city name. To make things confusing, Ancestry.com does not show the full 1930 ED number, but just the suffix.
In 1940, the Bureau extended the 1930 prefix numbers by assigning
prefix numbers to the largest cities within the United States.
city prefix numbers come after the highest county prefix number within
each state. For example, the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel is in
the city of Los Angeles, and that city is within the county of Los
In 1930, Los Angeles county was assigned prefix 19, and the
Hotel was assigned ED 19-64. In 1940, Los Angeles county again
prefix 19, but Los Angeles city was split out and given its own prefix
of 60. So in 1940 the Knickerbocker Hotel was assigned ED
To be sure there are actually two other ED 132s in Los Angeles county
1940 -- namely ED 19-132 which covers part of the city of Downey
and ED 59-132 in the large city of Long Beach (with its own, new
-- Steve Morse