Q: Is there such a thing as an index to counties for the Federal Census? It took me ages to find the page for Attica in Seneca County, Ohio in the 1920 census. -- Lewis
A: While most of us can use the Soundex for the 1920 census to locate our ancestors, there are times when we would prefer to spend time going page by page through a census looking for all of the individuals who share the same last name as our ancestor. Other times, we are on the lookout for surnames that married into our ancestor's family. Going page by page through the census, makes this easier.
Beginning in 1880, the cities and counties were becoming so big, that each was divided into enumeration districts. These districts where the area of the city or county of which a specific enumerator was responsible for canvassing to record the information on the inhabitants. Because the population was getting so big, we often find that a county takes up four or more rolls of microfilm. Locating a specific township in those microfilms is much easier when the enumeration districts are known.
Enumeration District Descriptions
The National Archives has published the Census Descriptions of Geographic Subdivisions and Enumeration Districts for 1830-1950. This is microfilm publication T1224. Of the 156 microfilms that make up this set, you will find that the 1920 census enumeration districts are found on rolls 41 to 60. These films are available from the Family History Library to your local Family History Center. Below is the listing of microfilm numbers and the states found on each.
- Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas: FHL Film number 1842702
- California Supervisor's Districts 1-9 ; Colorado: FHL Film number 1842703
- Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho: FHL Film number 1842704
- Illinois Supervisor's Districts 1-2 (Cook & Lake Counties) ; Illinois Supervisor's Districts 3-17: FHL Film number 1842705
- Indiana Supervisor's District 1-13 ; Iowa: FHL Film number 1842706
- Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana: FHL Film number 1842707
- Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts Supervisor's Districts 1-8: FHL Film number 1842708
- Michigan Supervisor's Districts 1-11, Minnesota: FHL Film number 1842709
- Mississippi, Missouri Supervisor's Districts 1-14: FHL Film number 1842710
- Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico: FHL Film number 1842711
- New Jersey, New York Supervisor's Districts 1-2 (Manhattan and Bronx) ; New York Supervisor's District 3 (part) (Kings County): FHL Film number 1842712
- New York Supervisor's Districts 3 (part) and 4 (Queen's and Richmond) ; District 5 (Nassau and Suffolk); District 6 (Westchester); District 7 (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland); District 8 (Columbia, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster); District 9 (Albany); District 10 (Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, Washington); District 11 (Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Schenectady); District 12 (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence); District 13 (Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oswego); District 14 (Herkimer and Oneida); District 15 (Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego); District 16 (Cortland and Onondaga); District 17 (Cayuga, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Yates); District 18 (Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins); District 19 (Monroe); District 20 (Genesee, Livingston, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming); District 21 (Erie); District 22 (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua).: FHL Film number 1842713
- North Carolina, North Dakota: FHL Film number 1842714
- Ohio Supervisor's Districts 1-19: FHL Film number 1842715
- Oklahoma, Oregon: FHL Film number 1842716
- Pennsylvania Supervisor's Districts 1-24: FHL Film number 1842717
- Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee: FHL Film number 1842718
- Texas Supervisor's Districts, 1-18 ; Utah and Vermont.: FHL Film number 1842719
- Virginia Supervisor's Districts 1-10 ; Washington: FHL Film number 1842720
- West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama, Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands: FHL Film number 1842721
The enumeration districts for Ohio can be found on roll 54 inclusive. While we tend to ignore the Supervisor's Districts as found on the census pages, they are important when searching the enumeration district descriptions. The counties are listed alphabetical only within their specific supervisor's district. In the case of Ohio, there are 19 supervisor's districts. Seneca is found in supervisor's district six. At the beginning of the roll of film, there is an index of the counties found in supervisor's districts 1 through 11, which are part of the first volume of this roll. Supervisor's districts 12 through 19 are found on the next volume with another index to those. It was through these indexes that I located Seneca county.
The next step was to go to through the microfilm until I reached Seneca county. Unlike some of the counties, this one is only on two rolls of microfilm, so not as horrendous as some of them can be. However, there are 51 enumeration districts for Seneca county, and that is a lot to scan through looking for a specific township.
Using the enumeration district descriptions, once in supervisor's district six, it is just a matter of looking for Attica. Most of the townships are listed in alphabetical order. The problem with Attica is that is not a township, but a village. Therefore it was listed under the township of which it is a part.
As a result the first pass through the enumeration district descriptions for Seneca county, I overlooked Attica. In going back I began to read through each entry instead of just scanning the township names.
In true genealogical fashion, Attica village is listed in one of the last enumeration districts for Seneca county, under the township of Venice. The entry in the enumeration district description will have
|No. of E.D. ||Description of Enumeration District||County ||Rate of Pay ||Instructions |
|141||Venice township (part of) including Attica village. All north of north section line of Sections 7 to 12 inclusive||Seneca||E18||Attica village should be shown separately on schedules.|
- Number of the enumeration district
- Description of the Enumeration District
- Rate of Pay
While not giving you the exact page number, the enumeration district descriptions at least narrow down your search in the census to one or two enumeration districts at the most. You may be able to find these enumeration districts at your local public library. Those with large genealogy sections often have this set of microfilms available.
Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is an award-winning author of several genealogy how-to books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, The Genealogist's Computer Companion, and Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more advice from Rhonda in her columns Expert Tips, Tigs and Trees, and Overheard in the Message Boards.