The 1930 US Federal Census is the most recent census available to the general public and contains information about approx. 123 million people. There is a 72 year waiting for period (for privacy reasons) before census records are released to the general public. The 1940 census will be available in 2012. That seems a long way off but I can't believe that it's been almost 6 years since 1930 became available. Citizens can request an extract of their specific census data for 1940 thru the more recent census years from NARA.
The census was taken in April, 1930 (except Alaska which was done 6 months earlier) and reflects the status of the household members as of April 1. The head of the household is listed first, on the same line as the street address, followed by the other household occupants and their relationship to the head of the household. There is a column indicating an "R" is the home is rented or an "O" if the home is owned. You'll also see an estimate of the value of the home if owned or the amount of monthly rent if rented. There is also a column indicating whether or not there is a radio in the home (I read somewhere that some people were reluctant to say yes to having a radio for fear that the government would tax them). Next is personal information for every member of the household: sex, race, age, marital status (including age at first marriage), college attendance, ability to read and write, birthplace, and parents' birthplaces. You will also see citizenship information including year of immigration, whether natural born, naturalized, or alien, year of immigration, language spoken before coming to the US, and ability to speak English. Occupation information includes whether or not employed and if the person worked for someone else or on his/her own account. Finally, whether or not the person served in the US military.
Here is the link for a blank 1930 census form so you can see the column headings:
A few facts to keep in mind:
- a child born after April 1 was not included in the census even though they were in the household on the day the enumerator visited.
-a person who died after April 1 was included in the census even though they were not alive on the day the enumerator visited.
-servicemen were not recorded in their family's household. They were treated as residents of their duty posts.
The 1930 census was the last census before Great Depression worsened and also before all hell started breaking loose in Europe. I'm looking forward to seeing the 1940 census for many reasons. Top of the list is because I will see my dad for the first time. He was born in 1936.