Prologue Magazine

The 1930 Census Schedules: Questions Asked on the Census

Spring 2002, Vol. 34, No. 1

By Constance Potter


Each census reflects many of the social, political, and economic issues of the previous decade. Some of the questions, such as name, age, and occupation, remain constant; however, there are usually new questions. The 1930 census is no different.

The census enumerators started taking the census on April 2 to record the data as of April 1.

  • In 1920, the census asked "if naturalized, year of naturalization."
  • In the 1900, 1910, and 1920 the census asked if a person owned or rented a house. In 1930, however, the schedule includes the value of the home or the amount of rent paid each month.
  • For the first time, the bureau asked whether the home had a radio, although it does not ask how many radios the family had.
  • The 1930 census also asked the person's age at the time of their first marriage. In 1910, the census had asked for the number of years in the "present marriage." Other censuses asked "whether single, married, widowed, or divorced."
  • In 1910, men were asked "whether a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy." In 1930, the bureau asked in which specific war a man had fought.

These questions are explained in more detail in the instructions to the enumerators, which are summarized in some detail in the catalog The 1930 Federal Population Census. The catalog lists the contents of all rolls of the population census schedules and the available Soundex indexes.

refer to caption

Heading from the 1930 population census schedule. (NARA, Records of the Bureau of the Census)

In 1930, the Bureau of the Census asked the following thirty-two questions:

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


  1. 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.


  1. Relationship of this person to the head of the family

Home Data

  1. Home owned or rented
  2. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
  3. Radio set
  4. Does this family own a farm?

Personal description

  1. Sex
  2. Color or race
  3. Age at last birthday
  4. Marital condition
  5. Age at first marriage
refer to caption

Heading from the 1930 population census schedule. (NARA, Records of the Bureau of the Census)


  1. Attended school or college any time since September 1, 1929
  2. 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.

  1. Place of birth—person
  2. Place of birth—father
  3. Place of birth—mother

Mother tongue (or native language) of foreign born

  1. Language spoken in home before coming to the United States
refer to caption

Heading from the 1930 population census schedule. (NARA, Records of the Bureau of the Census)

Citizenship, etc

  1. Year of immigration into the United States
  2. Naturalization
  3. Whether able to speak English

Occupation and industry

  1. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work
  2. Industry or business
  3. Class of worker

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

  1. Yes or no.
  2. If not, line number on Unemployment Schedule [These schedules no longer exist]

Veterans. Whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces

  1. Yes or no.
  2. What war or expedition?*

Farm schedule

  1. Number of farm schedule.


* The wars included the World War, Spanish-American War, Civil War, Mexican Expedition, Boxer Rebellion, and Philippine Insurrection.

There are general farm schedules and livestock schedules for the following territories: Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.


Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.