The 1920 US Census
What is the census and what type of information can I find in it?
A census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area. In addition to counting the inhabitants of an area, the census generally collects other vital information, such as names, ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background. The United States government began collecting census data in 1790, and has done so every 10 years since that date. Selected states have also conducted their own censuses over the years.
In the 1920 census you can get the following information:
- the name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
- the relationship of each individual to head of household
- whether or not the family owns or rents their home, whether or not the home is mortgaged
- each individual's color or race
- whether an individual is single, married, widowed, or divorced
- an individual's year of immigration to the United States
- whether an individual is naturalized or an alien
- if naturalized, the year of naturalization
- whether or not an individual attended school anytime since September, 1919
- whether or not an individual can read and write
- each individual's place of birth
- each individual's father's place of birth
- each individual's mother's place of birth
- each individual's mother tongue
- each individual's father's mother tongue
- each individual's mother's mother tongue
- whether or not each individual can speak English, and if not, language spoken
- the profession, occupation, or trade of an individual
- the industry an individual is working in
- whether an individual is an employee, employer, or self-employed
- if an employee, whether or not currently employed, and number of weeks out of work in 1919
- number of years an individual has been in present marriage
- number of children born to female individuals, and the number of those children still living
Where can I find census data?
Census records are available through the National Archives and the National Archives regional branches. You can also find census records at many libraries, including the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Online you can find the 1790 federal census, as well as every US Census, on Ancestry.
To find your ancestors in these census records, sometimes you'll need to use an index. Soundex indexes are available, with some exceptions, for the years 1880 to 1920. For information about Soundex, see the topic Soundex: what it is and how to use it.
At many libraries you can also find bound and microfilmed indexes for censuses from 1870 and earlier. You can find indexes at many of the same places where you find census records. Different locations have different indexes, so check more than one library if you don't find the index that you need.