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

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Access the records: United States Census, 1920 .

Contents

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.

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.


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Don't overlook FHL Place United States items or FHL Keyword United States items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see United States Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with This Collection

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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 Wiki 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.

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Contributions To This Article

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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. NARA microfilm publication T625. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 11 September 2014, at 19:19.
  • This page has been accessed 232,796 times.