United States Census, 1920 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States Census, 1920 .
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.
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.
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
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- Other identifying information such as residence
Search the Collection
To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals 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 look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
- 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.
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.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
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.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
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).