10 December 2010

The 1930 Census

Eighty years ago, and for much of its history, the United States Census was not the self-reported mail-in form that it is today. In 1930, an enumerator would go door-to-door and make a personal accounting by hand of every resident in their assigned district. Here is the 1930 Census form of the section of Chattanooga that we are interested in, as preserved by the National Archives (click to enlarge).

This form was filled out by enumerator Leora Perry on 15 April 1930. In the first column, vertically, she has recorded the street she is visiting -- East Ninth Street. In the second column, the house numbers of East Ninth Street are recorded.

At 1025 East Ninth Street, lived the Raymo family -- Margaret A Raymo and her four children, Arthur J Raymo, Charlotte A Raymo, Chester T Raymo and Roger D Raymo. Margaret, as she was a widow, was listed as head of household in column 6.

Columns 7 and 8 record whether the residence was owned or rented, and what the home value or monthly rent was. The Raymo home was rented for $50 a month.

In 1930, the U.S. Government was interested in how widespread the radio had become in America. As indicated in column 9, the Raymos had a radio.

Column 10 asks if the residence is a farm. Not here in Chattanooga City!

Columns 11 through 15 contain a personal description of each individual, including gender, age and marital status -- very valuable to genealogists. In April of 1930, Margaret was 47 years old. Her children were aged 23, 22, 21 and 19 respectively.

Columns 16 and 17 record each individual's education. Arthur, Chester and Roger each had attended school in the past year. (All three were students at the University of Tennessee.) The whole family could read and write as indicated in column 17.

Where the individual was born is recorded in column 18, along with their parents in columns 19 and 20. As we know, they were all born in Michigan.

Columns 21 through 24 dealt with immigration and citizenship. The Raymos were all US citizens.

Columns 25 and 26 record the occupation and industry of each individual. In the Raymo home, the three boys were students and unemployed. The only one working was Charlotte, who was a library secretary -- a job she held for most of her life.

In addition to providing valuable genealogical data for each individual, the census forms are also useful for getting a sense of the area our ancestors lived in. By looking at the other individuals enumerated on the same street, you can see what kind of neighborhood they lived in. East Ninth Street looks like a typical middle-class street. The occupations of the Raymos neighbor include bus drivers, firemen, railroad workers, letter carriers and nurses. Most folks are native Tennesseans, but there is also a family of Russian Jews.

Also of interest is the household at the bottom of the page -- 1014 East Ninth Street, the home of bookkeeper Leonard Dietzen, his wife Mary and their seven (!) daughters. Their eldest daughter, 16 year old Margaret Dietzen, would five years later, become the wife of Chester T Raymo, and forty years later, my grandmother.

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte and Leonard had not been born yet...so sweet, thinking of mom at 16.THANKS Tom!