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How the 1930 Census Enumerators Were Appointed

Joseph A. Hill was Director of the Division of Statistical Research (and its predecessors) within the Bureau of the Census from 1904 to 1938. Hill was Assistant Director for the 13th, 14th, and 15th (1910, 1920, and 1930) censuses.

The following undated memorandum was probably written as the Census Bureau began planning the 1940 census; it is from File 220 of General Records ("Current File"), 1910-40, identified as series 198 in Katherine H. Davidson and Charlotte M. Ashby, Preliminary Inventory No. 161, Records of the Bureau of the Census (Washington, DC: National Archives, 1964, repr. 1997).

How the Enumerators Were Appointed, 1930 Census,
by Joseph A. Hill

The appointment of enumerators for the work of taking the census is not under Civil Service regulations. The Census Act specifically provides that enumerators may be appointed by the Director of the Census, "such appointments to be made without regard to the Civil Service laws or the Classification Act."

It further provides that the Director of the Census may delegate to the supervisors authority to appoint the enumerators. It was not necessary under the law that the applicants for appointment as enumerators be required to take an examination or be subjected to any test regarding their fitness. Nevertheless, under and order of the Director of the Census, every applicant was required to fill out a test schedule, entering in due form the facts with regard to a number of hypothetical families as described in an accompanying narrative.

Up to about the 15th of March the test schedules were corrected and graded in the Office of the Census Bureau in Washington. The supervisor was furnished with a list of those applicants in his districts who successfully passed the test, and from this list he made his appointments. Except for emergency appointments, no one was eligible who did not pass the test.

The supervisor was not obliged to make appointments in the order of the ratings, but was at liberty to appoint anyone he chose among those who successfully passed the test, provided only that preference was given, wherever possible, to honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, or marines, and widows of such, and to the wives of injured soldiers, sailors, or marines, who themselves are not qualified, but whose wives are qualified to hold such positions. With these limitations the responsibility of the selection of enumerators rested entirely with the supervisor, who is responsible for a complete and accurate census of his district.