Now What: Enumeration Information

By Emily Anne Croom Premium

A 1930 census enumerator counted about 1,800 urban residents in two weeks. In rural areas, enumerators had four weeks to finish the job.

Q. In searching the 1930 census for my mother’s family, I discovered her eldest brother was the census enumerator for that district. How can I find out more about his employment as an enumerator? He died in 1942.

A. Some personnel records exist for civilian federal employees — including census enumerators — but few were compiled before 1911. A descendant can request a search for a deceased employee’s records from the Civilian Personnel Records Center, National Personnel Records Center, 111 Winnebago St., St. Louis, MO 63118, <>. Provide the person’s full name used during employment, birth date, Social Security number (if applicable), approximate hire and “separation” (or termination) dates and a copy of the death certificate. (You must provide written consent from any living individual whose records you request.) A National Archives and Records Administration <> employee informed me that the records center doesn’t have files for census enumerators, though.

The National Archives does keep some employee data in the files of various departments. For details, see Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives < guide> and Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States (National Archives Trust Fund).

For records on enumerators, consult the National Archives’ Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of the Census, Inventory 161. You’ll find instructions for ordering inventories online at <>. Also, roll 1 of National Archives microfilm T1224, Descriptions of Census Enumeration Districts, 1830-1950, reports 1830 and 1840 enumerators’ names, districts and pay.

To learn what your uncle’s work might have been like, read the article about taking the 1930 census at <> and the Census Bureau’s Measuring America <>.

The American State Papers <>, a collection of congressional documents from 1789 to 1838, has lists of early civilian employees. Click Browse American State Papers, then look in the two-volume Class X: Miscellaneous for 1793 and 1802 lists (volume 1, pages 57-68 and 260-319) and the 1816 register (volume 2, pages 307-351). The 1802 and 1816 lists also include military and naval officers.

From the August 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine.