Press Kit: 1930 Federal Population Census - More Information

1930 Census FAQs

What is the official census date?
The official census date was April 1, 1930. The release date is April 1, 2002 based on the 72-year privacy restrictions on census records.

Do the originals exist?
No. After filming the census in 1949, the Bureau of the Census destroyed the originals.

Are there any indexes?
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are Soundexed in their entirety.

The following Kentucky counties are indexed: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Perry, and Pike.

The following West Virginia Counties are indexed: Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, and Raleigh.

If a state isn't Soundexed, how can I search the census?
If you know where the person you are looking for lived, you may still be able to locate them on the census. There are several different search strategies you can use to find them.

  • To aid researchers, the National Archives has purchased some microfilmed city directories for the years around 1930. These are not National Archives publications and can be neither purchased nor rented from NARA.
  • Microfilm publication T1224, Descriptions of Enumeration Districts, 1830-1950 (156 rolls). The geographic descriptions are arranged by state, then by county.
  • Microfilm publication M1930, Enumeration District Maps for the Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 (36 rolls). These maps show the boundaries and the number of each enumeration district.
  • Microfilm publication M1931, Index to Selected City Streets and Enumeration Districts, 1930 Census (7 rolls). This series cross references street addresses with enumeration districts for more than 50 cities.

Definitions of some of the terms used in the census:

  • Census: 1) a counting of the population; 2) the actual pages of the census schedules
  • Schedule: the pages that the enumerators filled out when taking the census
  • Enumeration: another word for taking the census
  • Enumeration district: abbreviated as ED, it is the area assigned to one enumerator in one census period; two to four weeks in 1930
  • Precinct: the limits of an officer's jurisdiction or an election district
  • Soundex: an indexing system based on the way a name is pronounced rather than how it is spelled

Questions Asked on the 1930 Census

Place of abode

1. Street, avenue, road, etc.

2. House number

3. Number of dwelling house in order of visitation

4. Number of family in order of visitation


5. Name of each person whose place of abode on April 1, 1930, was in this family. Enter surname first, then the given name, and middle initial, if any.

Include every person living on April 1, 1930. Omit children born since April 1, 1930.


6. Relationship of this person to the head of the family Home Data

7. Home owned or rented

8. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented

9. Radio set

10. Does this family own a farm?

Personal description

11. Sex

12. Color or race

13. Age at last birthday

14. Marital condition

15. Age at first marriage


16. Attended school or college any time since Sept. 1, 1929

17. Whether able to read or write

Place of birth

Place of birth of each person enumerated and of his or her parents. If born in the United States, give State or Territory. If of foreign birth, give country in which birthplace is now situated. Distinguish Canada-French from Canada-English, and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.

18. Place of birth-person

19. Place of birth-father

20. Place of birth-mother

Mother tongue (or native language) of foreign born

21. Language spoken in home before coming to the United States Citizenship, etc.

22. Year of immigration into the United States

23. Naturalization

24. Whether able to speak English

Occupation & industry

25. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done

26. Industry or business

27. Class of worker


Whether actually at work yesterday (or the last regular working day)

28. Yes or no

29. If not, line number on Unemployment schedule [These schedules no longer exist]


Whether a veteran of U.S. Military or naval forces

30. Yes or no

31. What war or expedition? Farm schedule

32. Number of farm schedule [These schedules no longer exist]

Behind the Scenes: Preserving the 1930 Census

In the 1940's, shortly after the Census Bureau microfilmed the original records from the 1930's census, the Bureau destroyed the paper originals.

After the original microfilm was transferred to the National Archives, the Special Media Lab at the National Archives spent nearly 3 years inspecting the collection frame by frame, making necessary repairs, identifying and cleaning original camera negatives, and rehousing them into acid-free archival microfilm boxes in order to insure that the information was preserved. The Special Media Microfilm Duplication Lab spent thousands of hours producing high quality duplicate negatives and positives using state-of-the-art-duplicating machines never used on census materials. These duplicating machines rendered higher quality images by the use of a glass drum and high-tension belt system with far less loss of definition (focus) than older printing machines. By using a polyester film-base, the new master negatives have a life expectancy of 500 years, when the film is stored and handled properly.

To prepare for the opening of the 1930 census, the National Archives Special Media Preservation Laboratory produced two sets of preservation master negatives and 15 sets of positive reference copies of the 1930 Census microfilm. Each set consists of 2,667 rolls of 35-mm schedules and 1,587 rolls of 16-mm soundex indexes. In all, the lab produced more than 60,000 rolls of duplicate negatives and positives for use by the National Archives 13 regional archives facilities; the Microfilm Reading Room in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the microfilm loan program.

For additional Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300 or by e-mail.