On April 1, 2002, the 1930 Census will be released for public viewing. This is a day that genealogist have been anxiously anticipating because privacy laws have prohibited public use of the census for 72 years.
The newly released census records will be available at the National Archives, Washington, DC and 13 regional branches, including the Rocky Mountain Regional Branch at the Federal Center in Denver. Other facilities, such as libraries, will be receiving their copies in the weeks following the National Archives release.
Only 12 states are soundexed (phonetic index) for the 1930 Census. The soundexed states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and part of West Virginia and Kentucky. Ancestry.com will begin indexing immediately after receiving the films and they have announced that the first part of the index will be online as a paid subscription within several months.
The 1930 Census microfilm is reported to be in good shape, very readable. There were population, farm and unemployment schedules taken in 1930 but the population schedule is the only one that was microfilmed before the originals were destroyed.
For several years the National Archives has been working to get ready for the release of this census. At the Denver branch, they have moved to an expanded research room which houses 20 additional microfilm readers.
Because most of the census is not soundexed, researchers will need to determine the enumeration district (E.D.) in which a person lived. The E.D. is the area that could be covered by a census taker in one census period. In order to find the E.D., the National Archives has made available 4 types of records: city directories, city street cross indexes, E.D. descriptions and E.D. maps.
1. City Directories. These are on microfilm for selected cities in 49 states and the District of Columbia. These directories are for most of the larger cities and center around 1928 to 1931.
2. M1931-Cross Index to Selected City Streets & Enumeration Districts. This is a list of each street and the corresponding E.D. number for over 50 cities. They are on microfilm and are arranged by state and then city. A list of the included cities is available at the National Archives. There is also a web site, not associated with NARA, that has a database for identifying the enumeration districts by street for the 100 largest U.S. cities. This site is at http://home.pacbell.net/spmorse/census.
3. T1224-Descriptions of the Enumeration Districts. These are similar to the T1224's that are available for previous years. In the 1930 enumeration district descriptions there is a column that gives the corresponding 1920 enumeration district number. This is new and was not in the descriptions in previous years. If the person you are searching for is living in the same place as they were living in 1920 this feature will be a great help. These descriptions are on microfilm and are arranged by state, county and city.
4. M1930-Maps of Enumeration Districts. These are color reproductions of over 5,000 maps used by the Bureau of the Census. The maps were marked showing the number and boundaries of the enumeration district. These maps are on microfilm and are arranged by state, county, and city. There are also hard copy maps for some larger cities.
You can get a head start on your 1930 Census research by making a list of people you want to find. If they were living in one of the soundexed states, wait until April 1 and use the soundex films. If they were not living in one of the soundexed states, then use the available finding aids to discover the enumeration district numbers. If you act now and find the E.D.’s, you could be looking at the census records on April 1, while everyone else is looking up E.D.’s.