United States Census, 1920 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: United States Census, 1920 .
Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.
Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 January for the 1920 census. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were sent to the Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. The 1920 census covers 95-97% of the population.
The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790 to the present. This information pertains to the census conducted in 1920.
The U.S. federal census was taken at the beginning of every decade, beginning in 1790, to apportion the number of representatives that a state could send to the House of Representatives in Congress. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.
Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor.
Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "United States Census, 1920
." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
text = Bureau of the Census. "Population Schedules for the 1920 Census." NARA microfilm publication T625. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.
Important genealogical information in the 1920 census:
- State, county, township, town/city, precinct and enumeration district
- Date census was taken (information given based on a 1 January 1920 date)
- Street name and house number
- Name of head of household
- Names of all members of household
- Relationship to head of household
- Age (can be used to calculate the approximate birth year)
- Marital status (single, married, widowed or divorced)
- Immigrant or naturalized citizen
- Date of naturalization
- Whether attended school or not
- Able to read and write?
- Birthplace of each member
- Language spoken
- Father's birthplace
- Mother's birthplace
How to Use the Records
Search the Collection
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "DGS Film Number" category
which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Begin your search by locating your ancestor in the census. Compare the information in the census to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination.
Carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.
- Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family.
- Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
- Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States.
- If they are subject to military service they may have military files in the State or National Archives.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment, school, or military records.
It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
Some other helpful tips to keep in mind are:
- Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county.
- You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
- You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
- Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
- The census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.
- Birth dates calculated from ages are often off by a year.
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States Census, 1920," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLBX-6PY : accessed 11 April 2012), John T Elliot in household of Charles N Elliot (Ketchikan, First, Alaska).