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# Wednesday, April 30, 2008
All About Census Enumeration Districts
Posted by Diane

Q. What's an enumeration district?

A. An enumeration district (ED) is an administrative division of a particular county or township for the purposes of census-taking. Each census taker would be assigned one or more EDs, each of which was designated with a number.

At one time, to find your ancestor's census return, you’d have to identify which roll of census microfilm contained the right ED. Now that US censuses have been indexed by name, people don’t have to identify EDs the way they used to.

But you may find EDs handy for a few reasons:
  • If you can’t find a household in records for a database site such as Ancestry.com, you can browse by ED (in Ancestry.com, choose a census year, then scroll below the search box to pick a state, county or township; a ward; then an ED).
  • Enumerators didn't always proceed through their EDs in orderly fashion: Rather than go down one side of the street and up the other, they might cross back and forth or double back to places where no one was home. But you can compare a census return to a map of the corresponding ED to plot the neighborhood and see who lived next to your relatives.
  • When the 1940 census comes out on microfilm in 2012, a name index won’t be available right away—but while you wait, you'll be able to find the records using the ED. Update: Good news! Name indexes may be available immediately after all. Click comments (below) for details.
To identify your ancestor's enumeration district, you’ll need to know the state, city and street name, and possibly a street number. Then, try these tools:
  • Stephen P. Morse’s Web site has an ED finder for the 1910 to 1940 censuses (mostly for urban areas). Scroll down to the census section of his home page to find it. 
Morse’s site also offers a tool for translating among EDs from 1910 through 1940.
  • NARA has put ED descriptions for each census on microfilm. Series A3378 has EDs for the 1900 through 1940 censuses; series T1224 goes back to 1830. Update: Click comments for details on ED microfilm, too.
Learn more about EDs from the USGenWeb’s Census Project page.


census records | genealogy basics
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:41:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
Friday, May 02, 2008 3:03:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There are some errors in the above. Let me update the essay.
-NARA has decided to digitize the 1940 schedules... no microfilm planned for the 1940 release in 2012. It will be available online.
-NARA is trying to get a 3rd party to index the 1940 schedule before release, but we will see if privacy and other issues can be resolved for that to happen. Thus we might have a name index available on opening day, but the 1940 geographical finding aid on the One Step site is already completed, with the help of dozens of volunteers and the One Step team.
-NARA series A3378 is a 73 roll group of films that have ED maps (not ED text descriptions) of the 1900 through 1940 US population censuses. The T1224 series does have ED text descriptions, through 1940. The T1224 series, however, does not extend back past 1910; instead there are other film series that accomplish that process (e.g. T1210)
-The One Step site (of which I am a participant) has ED number conversions between 1920 and 1930, and 1930 and 1940 only.
-The One Step ED finder now is complete for all EDs (both rural and urban) for 1920 through 1940, and we should have 1910's complete rural added to that list soon. Read the overview essay in the census section of the site to use all the utilities.
Thanks
Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA
Joel Weintraub
Friday, May 02, 2008 11:40:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Let me make a short correction to my previous comments. T1224 is a NARA series that has ED descriptions for 1830 through 1890, and then 1910 through 1950. T1210 covers the ED text descriptions for the 1900 census.
Joel Weintraub
Comments are closed.