Obtaining EDs for the 1930 Census in One Step
Frequently Asked Questions

Stephen P. Morse , San Francisco

1. What can I do on this site?

In order to find a person in the census, you will need to know the enumeration district (ED) in which the person lived. The means for determining the ED are different for different regions of the country.  Some regions have been name indexed (soundexed) so you can find the ED if you know the person's name. Other regions are address indexed allowing you to find the ED if you know the address. For regions in which either of these indexes exists, the site gives you the specific roll number in that index so that you can look up your ED.

This website is most useful for regions where neither of these indexes exist. For major cities that have neither a name nor an address index, it presents an interactive interface that allows you to "compute" the ED.  Due to lack of resources, not all cities are covered.  See question 16 for more details.

The interactive interface presented here is based on the data that was transcribed by Dr. Joel Weintraub with the help of many volunteers.  That data is available on his website at http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ITWIT_Census1930 [update: that website no longer exists].

This site does not contain information about individuals named in the 1930 census.

2. When will the 1930 census be available for viewing, and where?

By federal statute, the census is sealed for 72 years for privacy reasons.  As of April 1, 2002 the waiting period is over and the 1930 census will be available for viewing at all branches of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  And shortly thereafter it will be available at those libraries that have ordered copies.

Furthermore, additional helper films to find address locations on the 1930 Census are available now at the National Archives.

3. What is an ED?

ED stands for Enumeration District.  An enumeration district is defined by NARA as a "basic geographic area of a size that could be covered by a single census taker (enumerator) within one census period."

4. Why do I need to know about EDs?

As with all censuses since 1880, the information in the 1930 census is arranged by ED in the actual census microfilms.  Therefore in order to locate a person, you need to know the ED in which that person resided in 1930.  Determininng the ED may or may not be difficult, depending on where the person lived.

Some Southern states have been name-indexed (using a Soundex system) as was done for the entire country with the 1900 and 1920 census.  For those states, you need only look up the name in the soundex film and you can see the ED number (as well as the sheet number and line number) immediately.  For other states, you will need to know more precisely where the person lived.  Then you will need to find the ED that corresponds to that location.  That's where the information on this site may be helpful.

5. What States have been name-indexed for the 1930 census?

The states that have been name-indexed (using a soundex system) are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, parts of Kentucky (Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Perry, and Pike Counties), Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and parts of West Virginia (Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, and Raleigh Counties).

6. Why is there no name index for the rest of the states and counties?

The indexing process was started during the depression years when the government was trying to create jobs.  After the United States entered World War II, the country found more productive uses for its manpower and economic resources than the production of an index to the 1930 census.  The indexing project was never resumed when the war ended.

7. Will there ever be a name index to the entire 1930 census?

The US government has no plans to produce such an index.  However, once the census films are made public, it will be possible for private firms to index the names.  Since this is already happening for other census years, it is quite possible that a commercially-produced index will be available at some point in the future.

8. My state has been name-indexed.  How do I find the ED number?

The procedure is the same as was used with the 1920 census.

Your first step is to generate the soundex code for the surname you are interested in.  Click  here  for a website that generates soundex codes.

Next you go to the soundex microfilm rolls arranged by state and ordered by soundex code within each state.  You then scan through the roll until you get to the soundex code you are interested in.  The entries under each code are ordered by first name regardless of the actual surname.  When you get to the entry for the person you are looking for, you will see the ED number in which the person is located.

9. My state has not been name-indexed and I don't know the address of the person I want.  What do I do?

In this case it is necessary to know the precise location where that person lived in 1930.  If the person lived in a city or urban area, a street address will be most helpful.  For more rural areas, it is necessary to know the county and the name of the town or township.

To help researchers find the address where a person was living in 1930, NARA has purchased an extensive set of city directories for the years close to 1930.  These city directories, which are not government records, are available at all the NARA branches.  A complete list of the cities and years for which city directories are available can be found at http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1930/city-directories.html.  The private companies which compiled the city directories tried to include every male of employable age, workers under the age of twenty, male students, working women, widows, and girls of marriageable age.

Furthermore, old city directories and telephone books are generally available in the reference sections of public libraries in large cities and most library reference departments will check a name for free or at a nominal cost; often the request can be made on line or by telephone. This avoids having to use NARA.

Other potential sources for a person's 1930 location are: Social Security applications, old letters and envelopes, telephone directories, death certificates, birth certificates, naturalization papers, ship manifests, wedding certificates, school records, religious records, voter registration, and 1920 U.S. Census records.

10. My state has not been name-indexed.   However I do have the address of the person I want.  How do I find the ED number?

NARA microfilm series M1931 consists of seven microfilm rolls that contain address indexes for certain cities.  The address indexes convert street addresses to ED numbers.  Unfortunately there are only certain cities for which such address indexes exist.  These cities are:

Akron OH Chicago IL Elizabeth NJ Kansas City KS Oklahoma City OK Queens NY San Francisco CA
Atlanta GA Cincinnati OH Erie PA Long Beach CA Omaha NE Reading PA South Bend IN
Baltimore MD Cleveland OH Fort Wayne IN LA County CA Paterson NJ Richmond NY Tampa FL
Berkeley CA Dayton OH Gary IN Memphis TN Peoria IL Richmond VA Tulsa OK
Brooklyn NY Denver CO Grand Rapids MI Miami FL Phoenix AZ San Antonio TX Washington DC
Canton OH Detroit MI Indianapolis IN Newark NJ Philadelphia PA San Diego CA Wichita KS
Youngstown OH
In addition to the above cities, address indexes exist for most of North Carolina..

If your city is not address-indexed, then translating your address into a specific ED number will take more time.  The definitions of which 1930 streets are in an ED can be found on 30 films within NARA microfilm series T1224.   In some cases the T1224 listing will show all streets that are contained in an ED.  In other cases it might show only the boundary streets.  In either case, the procedure entails looking through the definition of each and every ED in the city, and trying to determine if your street address is contained within it.  This usually involves constantly referring to a map of the city as you check out each ED.  For large cities this could be a very challenging task.  This website was designed to help simplify this process for larger cities by reducing the number of EDs that need to be examined.

11. How does your website help me find an ED number?

The website will tell you immediately if you are one of the lucky ones who can search by name using the 1930 soundex rolls.  As soon as you enter the state, and perhaps the county as well, you will be informed if a soundex name index exists.

If not, you proceed to specify the city.  At this point the website will tell you if your city is address-indexed on the M1931 microfilm series and will give you the roll number.  You can then go to that microfilm and you should be able to find the ED from the address.

If you do not fall into either of the above categories, the website will make it easy for you to determine which ED your address falls into without your having to actually scan through the T1224 microfilm series.  The website does this by consulting tables that were generated from the T1224 microfilm.  These tables contain all streets that are in each ED for selected large cities.  So you enter your street and the website can tell you which EDs that street passes through.  If it is contained in only one ED, your task of finding the ED is finished.  Otherwise you can enter additional (cross) streets and the website will list all EDs common to those streets.  By entering enough additional streets, the website will be able to narrow the possibilities down to only a single ED.  If there are still multiple EDs after entering the cross streets, then enter additional streets to complete the closed city block.

12. How can I find cross streets that are near the address that I'm looking for?

A quick way to do this is to use the website to select a street, type in a house number, and then click the "MapIt" button.  This will send a command to another website (MapQuest) to display a modern-day map of the area that includes the address.  If the street names and house numbers have not changed since 1930, then the cross streets will show up on the map.

If there have been significant changes since 1930, it will be necessary to seek out a map from that time period.  Such maps can sometimes be found in city directories.  Also local and state historical societies usually have old maps, and will often look up a street on a telephone request.

You can also use the MapIt function after you have selected a pair of streets and want to know a third street in order to further narrow down the set of possible EDs.  In this case you won't be asked for a house number -- MapQuest will display a map of the intersection of those two streets.  Once you've selected a third street, the MapIt function no longer appears.  The reason is that MapQuest is unable to handle a request containing three streets unless they have a common point of intersection.

13. Will I be able use the website while I am doing research at NARA?

That depends on your local NARA branch.  Some branches do provide computers with Internet connections for use by patrons.  Others do not.  Therefore it is suggested that you obtain as much information as possible from this website before visiting NARA.

It might be that you will need to consult a city directories at NARA in order to find a street address for a person.  And after that you would need to use the website to find the ED that contains that address.  Since you are already at NARA and might not have access to the website,  remember that the data from this website is also available in the "Files" section of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ITWIT_Census1930/ [update: that website no longer exists].  In particular, for each city that has been transcribed from T1224, there is an index file on the ITWIT website.  The index file lists all the streets and corresponding EDs.  This file can be printed out and used while doing research at NARA.  Reading the index may not be as much fun as playing with the website, but the important data is there.

14. I found the ED number.  Now how do I find the person in the census rolls?.

The National Archives has a catalogue that show by state which EDs are contained on which census microfilm roll.  Consult that catalog and obtain the  microfilm roll for your ED.  Fetch that roll.  Go through the roll, frame-by-frame, looking for the ED number, and then within that ED looking for the street you are interested in.  Then go down that street looking for the house number.  And, finally, go through the listings of all people residing at that house number until you find the person (or family) you are looking for.

15. What are the limitations of your website?

You should know how the tables on this website were generated from the T1224 microfilms.  That will give you an idea of the possible problems you may encounter using the website's information.  The original ED descriptions on T1224 may have contained misspellings, were on unreadable microfilm frames, or were not consistent in how they presented information (E 3rd Ave, 3rd Ave E, etc.).  T1224 rarely indicated if a street was a Street (St).  There were "unnamed" streets, extended streets (imaginery lines), topographic features as boundaries (canals, rivers, etc.), and even political boundaries (Ward Line, City Boundary).  When transcribing the information into files, typing mistakes may have occurred, or some street names not transcribed from certain EDs.  Once you narrow the number of possible EDs for your address using this Website, you can always check on its validity by going to the T1224 microfilm and looking up the ED numbers.

16. Why isn't my city listed on your website?

The website lists all regions for which a soundex name-index exists, and all cities for which an address-index exists (M1931 microfilm series).

It also lists the 100 largest urban areas in 1930, plus a few others.  These are the cities for which it would be especially tedious to scan through all the ED descriptions in microfilm T1224 in order to find the ED that contains a particular address.  Since our resources were limited, we had to draw the line somewhere.  The remaining cities had populations less than 80,000.  A city of that size consists of no more than about 45 EDs.  Therefore, in order to find the ED that corresponds to an address in a city that is not included in this website, it will be necessary to scan through at most 45 EDs.  This task should not be too daunting, especially for the dedicated researcher.

We welcome volunteers to help add additional cities to the database.    Click here to find out how you can help.

17. Why do you have two entries for certain localities, such as Manhattan, The Bronx, and Los Angeles?

These localities are address-indexed in the M1931 microfilm rolls.  In such cases, the normal procedure is to consult the M1931 rolls to find the ED.

However we also have the tables defining the EDs for these regions.  These tables were transcribed before microfilm series M1931 was released because our initial information about which cities would be covered in M1931 turned out to be incorrect for these localities.  So it is possible to find an ED for these regions completely from this website without ever having to consult the M1931 microfilm roll.

One entry for each of these regions tells you the specific M1931 microfilm roll that contains the region, whereas the other one leads you to the table for obtaining the EDs of the region on-line.

Similarly, we have multiple entries for some cities that are name indexed.  For such cities it is simplest to use the name index (on soundex microfilm) because you do not need to know the address.  But if the name you are looking for cannot be found in the name index, we offer you the ability to find the ED using our website if you know the address.

18. Why are some streets that didn't exist in 1930 on your database?  Why can't I find the street I'm looking for?

Census districts of many cities, mostly the smaller ones, were defined only by their boundary streets on NARA film T1224.  In order to create the tables for these cities on our website, we had to fill in the internal streets.  We did this by referring to street maps of the city.  We tried to use maps as close to 1930 as possible, but in some cases we had to use recent maps.  This is why some modern streets appear in our tables.

Furthermore, some of the streets that existed in 1930 may have changed name or even been removed completely, and therefore not present on the maps we were using.  There are other reasons for not finding street names on our tables, including the possibility that your street was not within that city's boundaries in 1930.  Human error may also play a role.

Also see question 15.

19. Where can I find more information about the 1930 census and the problems involved with searching in it?

Dr. Joel Weintraub has been working on this for some time now and has created a website dedicated to the problems.  His website is at

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ITWIT_Census1930/ [update: that website no longer exists]
There's also the official NARA website for the 1930 census.  That's at
In addition there are websites devoted to the census for specific areas of the country.  Here are a few:
Cook County, Illinois:

20. Your website does not finish loading, or it fails to work correctly.  What could the problem be?

I've been asked that question several times recently, and each time the problem was in the user's browser.  Specifically, the copy of my webpage in the browser's cache was bad and that bad copy was what was being displayed when you thought you were visiting my site.  The problem can be fixed by clearing the cache in your browser.

Here's how to clear the cache if you are using the Microsoft IE browser:

     From the tools menu select "internet options"
     That should open up a window with several tabs across the top
     Make sure you are in the "General Tab"
     The pop-up should have three sections
     The middle section is labeled "Temporary Internet Files"
     That section has two buttons
     The first button is labeled "Delete Files"
     Click on that button.
     Then try to visit my site again.

And here's how to clear it when using the Netscape browser:

     From the edit menu select "preferences"
     That should open up a preferences window with several choices on the left side
     Click on the plus sign in front of "advanced" and several choices will appear below it
     Click on the choice that says "cache"
     The right side of the window has a button that says "Clear Memory Cache" and another that says "Clear Disk Cache".
     Click on both buttons.
     Click on OK to close this preferences window.
     Then try to visit my site again

21. Can I use this website to find an ED number corresponding to an address for other census years, particularly 1920?

The website might provide some indirect help for 1920.

Enumeration District boundaries and numbers change with each census year.  In general, knowing the ED number for one census year won't help you find the ED for the same address in another year.  The exception to this rule is that NARA microfilm publication T1224 does attempt to show how 1930 EDs relate to 1920 EDs.  For each 1930 ED description, there is a column that shows which 1920 EDs covered the same area.  Typically, each 1930 ED consists of parts of several 1920 EDs.

If you have a 1920 address, the chances are pretty good that the address was in the same place in 1930, (unless the houses were re-numbered, or the buildings were torn down or burned down).  So to find the 1920 ED for an address, first find the 1930 ED for the same address using the information from this site.  Then consult the appropriate reel of NARA microfilm series T1224 (rolls 61 to 90) to find the corresponding 1920 ED's.

This method may be difficult to apply in some cases because parts of the T1224 microfilms are sometimes hard to read, especially the column that has the 1920 ED numbers.

22. Why can't I open the street list for LA?  When I try, it opens in the middle of the list and everything freezes.

I have no idea why this problem is happening.  I have gathered information from the people who are observing it and it appears to be occuring only on a Mac (PC users are not experiencing it), only for LA (all other cities work fine), and only with certain browsers (Microsoft's IE browser and Netscape's 4.x browsers have the problem whereas Netscape 6.x does not).  So until I learn more about the cause, my recommendation is that you either (1) install Netscape 6.2, (2) buy a PC, or (3) move out of LA.  ;-)

By the way, this problem has just been reported for Boston as well.

23. Can you give some examples showing how to use this website?

Here's one that I received from an actual user of this site.  She was trying to determine the ED for 408 41st Street in Camden New Jersey.

a. From the list of states, select New Jersey.  A list of cities appears.

b. From the list of cities, select Camden.  A list of streets appears.

c. From the list of streets select 41st Street.  The following appears:

A section titled "Selected Streets".  In that section is listed 41st Street.
A section titled "Enumeration Districts Common to all Selected Streets".  In that section is listed 4-52 and 4-59
A section titled "View Present Day Map of Neighborhood" with a place to enter the housenumber.
   So now we know that 41st Street runs through two EDs.  To find out which one we want, we need to know the cross street at 408 41st Street.

d. In the map section enter the housenumber of 408 and press MapIt.  A map appears showing that the cross street at 408 41st Street is High Street.

e. Go back to the street list and select High Street.  The following happens:

The "Selected Streets" section now contains both 41st Street and High Street
The "Enumeration Districts" section now contains only 4-52.
The only enumeration district common to both 41st Street and High Street is 4-52, and that should be the ED for 408 41st Street.

Here's an even more interesting example, this one for my own family.  My grandfather lived at 172 Henry Street in Manhattan.

a. From the list of states, select New York.  A list of cities appears

b. From the list of cities, select Manhattan.  Note that there are two entries for Manhattan (see question 17).  One is simply a pointer to the address index (M1931 microfilm) that exists for Manhattan.  But, in addition, we also have tables for Manhattan on this one-step website.  That corresponds to the second Manhattan entry which reads "Manhattan (one-step)".  Select the one-step entry.  A list of streets appears.

c. From the list of streets select Henry.  The following appears:

A section titled "Selected Streets".  In that section is listed Henry Street.
A section titled "Enumeration Districts Common to all Selected Streets".  In that section is listed 16 EDs.
A section titled "View Present Day Map of Neighborhood" with a place to enter the housenumber.
   So now we know that Henry Street runs through 16 EDs and we need to add some cross streets in order to narrow this list down

d. In the map section enter the housenumber of 172 and press MapIt.  A map appears showing that 172 Henry is between Rutgers and Jefferson.  (The map didn't list the names of the cross streets initially but it did after I used the zoom feature of the map to get more detail.)

e. Go back to the street list and select Rutgers.  This reduces the number of common enumeration districts to 4 -- namely 31-13, 31-16, 31-91, and 31-92.

f. Go again to the street list and select Jefferson.  Now there are only two common enumeration districts -- 31-13 and 31-92.

g. Go back to the window containing the map that was generated in step d (that window is still around) and find the fourth street that completes the city block containing 172 Henry.  It is Madison.

h. Go once more to the street list and this time select Madison.  Finally there is only one common ED -- 31-13.  That is the result we were looking for.

24. Is there a problem using your city dropdown lists from webTV?  I am not able to get it to work.

Apparently there is a problem because I've already received this complaint from one person regarding the census site and from numerous people regarding my Ellis Island site.  But I can't imagine what it could be.  Whatever the problem is, it is not due to my sites.  My sites works with every other internet provider and with all commercial browsers.  If anyone has any more information about what the cause of the problem is, I'd be very interested in hearing from you.

For what it's worth, one person told me that they contacted webTV about the problem and were told that "webTV is unable to take a lot of information (whatever that means)."

25. I only get the top part of your webpage and the printing is very large.  What could the problem be?

My first thought when I was asked this question is that it was a cache problem (question 20) or a mac problem (question 22) but neither of these turned out to be the case.  Finally discovered that it was caused by the resolution.  The user had her screen resolution set to 640x480.  When she changed it to 800x600 she reported that it worked fine.

You change the screen resolution on windows by going to the control panel and clicking on the display icon.  Make sure your resolution is at least 800x600 or higher.

-- Steve Morse