Research Our Records

Search Strategies: Geographic Resources

Search Strategies: Geographic Resources

City Directories

Knowing a person's street address will help you find the enumeration district for urban residents. City directories give the street address where a person lived. To aid researchers, NARA purchased selected microfilmed city directories for the years around 1930. This microfilm series is available at the National Archives Building (700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC) and at our regional facilities. Many libraries also have city directories local to their area. These are not National Archives Microfilm publications.

Geographic Descriptions of EDs

Geographic descriptions of enumeration districts are found in T1224, Descriptions of Enumeration Districts, 1830-1950 (156 rolls). The descriptions are arranged by state, county, and city or township. The 1930 descriptions can be found on rolls 61 through 90. These describe the boundaries of a particular enumeration district; they do not indicate all of the streets within that ED. They were transcribed and are included in the "Search Places" portion of this web site.

ED Maps

The Bureau of the Census used contemporary maps upon which it overlayed, often just with grease pencil notations, the boundaries and numbers of enumeration districts. The quality and visual clarity of these maps varied considerably. The complete set of enumeration district maps are in M1930, Enumeration District Maps for the Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 (36). This microfilm publication is available at all NARA regional records services facilities nationwide.

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.

Researchers can use the above resources, along with contemporary non-Census maps, current maps, and other local geographical information, to narrow their search to only a few EDs. Carefully study the ED descriptions for your area. Then compare these descriptions to known information about the location, such as street names and place names and likely places of residence for the family being searched. Searches conducted via the geographic approach often can refine the search area down to only a portion of a single roll of microfilm.
Last updated March 9, 2002