United States Census, 1920 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

From FamilySearch Wiki

FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States Census, 1920 .

United States.png


Record Description

The collection consists of an index of population schedules listing inhabitants of the United States in 1920. This was the fourteenth census conducted since 1790. There were 107.5 million individuals enumerated this census year. The index was created by FamilySearch and Ancestry.com.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Census, 1920.

Record Content

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
  • Gender
  • Race
  • 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
  • Occupation

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name
  • Other identifying information such as residence

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "State"
⇒Select the appropriate "County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Township"
⇒Select the appropriate "District" which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Keep in mind:

  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor in the census, 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. For example:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Remember that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Look for another index. Local historical and genealogical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search neighboring localities or states.

General Information About These Records

Population schedules were recorded on large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules are arranged by state, county, place, and enumeration district. The districts are not always filed in sequential order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is usually the order in which the enumerator visited the households.

Federal census takers were asked to record information about all the people who were in a household on the census day, which was 1 January for the 1920 census. A census taker might have visited the residence on a later date, but the information collected was to have been about the people in the residence 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 of the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. The schedules cover 95 to 97 percent of the population.

The U.S. federal census has been taken at the beginning of every decade, beginning in 1790, to apportion the number of representatives a state could send to the House of Representatives. 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 taken by the census enumerator. Realize that any family member or even a neighbor may have supplied information to the census taker. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"United States Census, 1920." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2015. NARA microfilm publication T625. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United States Census, 1920.

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Census, 1920.


Need wiki, indexing, or website help? Contact our product teams.

Did you find this article helpful?

You're invited to explain your rating on the discussion page (you must be signed in).

  • This page was last modified on 28 September 2015, at 23:27.
  • This page has been accessed 240,194 times.