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Source Information

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

About 1920 United States Federal Census

This database is an every name index to individuals enumerated in the 1920 United States Federal Census, the Fourteenth Census of the United States. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1920 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration microfilm, T625, 2,076 rolls. (If you do not initially find the name on the page that you are linked to, try a few pages forward or backward, as sometimes different pages had the same page number.)

This new index (released 2005) maintains the old head of household index and adds to it a new every name index (including a re-keying of the heads of households). As a result, for many heads of households you will see two names - a primary, and an alternate. The primary name is the newly keyed name. The alternate name is the name as it appeared in the original head of household only index. Alternate names are only displayed when there is a difference in the way the name was keyed between the two indexes. By making both names available to researchers, the likelihood of your being able to find your head of household ancestor has increased. Likewise, researchers who were once able to find their head of household ancestor under a particular spelling will still be able to easily find that ancestor.

What Areas are Included:

The 1920 census includes all fifty U.S. states and territories, as well as Military and Naval Forces, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and for the first time American Samoa, Guam, and the Panama Canal Zone.

Why Census Records are Important:

Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. federal censuses. The population schedules are successive "snapshots" of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Because of this, the census is often the best starting point for genealogical research after home sources have been exhausted.

Some Enumerator Instructions:

The 1920 Census was begun on 1 January 1920. The actual date of the enumeration appears on the heading of each page of the census schedule, but all responses were to reflect the individual's status as of 1 January, even if the status had changed between 1 January and the day of enumeration. For example, children born between 1 January and the day of enumeration were not to be listed, while individuals alive on 1 January but deceased when the enumerator arrived were to be counted.

The following questions were asked by enumerators:

  • Name of street, avenue road, etc.
  • House number or farm
  • Number of dwelling in order of visitation
  • Number of family in order of visitation
  • Name of each person whose place of abode was with the family
  • Relationship of person enumerated to the head of the family
  • Whether home owned or rented; if owned, whether free or mortgaged
  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Year of immigration to United States
  • Whether naturalized or alien
  • If naturalized, year of naturalization
  • Whether attended school any time since 1 September 1919
  • Whether able to read
  • Whether able to write
  • Person's place of birth
  • Mother tongue
  • Father's place of birth
  • Father's mother tongue
  • Mother's place of birth
  • Mother's mother tongue
  • Whether able to speak English
  • Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done
  • Industry, business, or establishment in which at work
  • Whether employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account
  • Number of farm schedule

Due to boundary modifications in Europe resulting from World War I, some individuals were uncertain about how to identify their national origin. Enumerators were instructed to spell out the name of the city, state, province, or region of respondents who declared that they or their parents had been born in Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, or Turkey. Interpretation of the birthplace varied from one enumerator to another. Some failed to identify specific birthplaces within those named countries, and others provided an exact birthplace in countries not designated in the instructions.

There are no separate Indian population schedules in the 1920 census. Inhabitants of reservations were enumerated in the general population schedules. Enumerators were instructed not to report servicemen in the family enumerations but to treat them as residents of their duty posts. The 1920 census includes schedules for overseas military and naval forces.

Taken from Chapter 5: Research in Census Records, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by Loretto Dennis Szucs; edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1997).

ED Description data came from The National Archives and One-Step by Stephen P. Morse.

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