The Federal Census is an invaluable tool for genealogists, without which many of us would be lost. Here in the United States the census was first taken in 1790 and was then taken every 10 years thereafter. Of course, most people know that the majority of the 1890 census was destroyed and is unavailable to us, much to my chagrin. But, all of the others from 1790-1930 are available. They are released 72 years after they are taken. The latest release was the 1930 census, which became available in 2002.
Most large city libraries with a genealogy section have census rolls available for viewing, if not, they can probably order them. Don't forget to check with the LDS library as well. There are census records available online as well, some for a fee, but many are free. You can find those through an Internet search site, such as Google. I have a search box toward the bottom of this page for your convenience so you don't have to leave the page. You can also check out online subscription services, such as Ancestry.com Click here for the Ancestry.com Free Trial
Most genealogists wait anxiously for the next release. The 1940 census is due to be released in April 2012. It is a long wait still. The 1940 census is the first to have a statistical sample, meaning that 5% of the people were asked an additional 16 questions. The 1940 census is also the first census that had a separate questionnaire for the housing status. Here is a list of questions for both parts of the 1940 census.
Street the person lives on
Number of household in order of visitation
Is the home owned or rented?
Value of the home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
Does the person's household live on a farm?
Relationship with the head of household
Color or race
Age at last birthday
Did the person attend school or college at any time in the past year?
What was the highest grade of school that the person completed?
Person's place of birth
If foreign born, is the person a citizen?
In what place did the person live on April 1, 1935?
For persons who, on April 1, 1935 was living in the same house as at present, enumerators were to enter "same house" into column 17; they were to leave the rest of the columns in this section blank. For persons who lived in a different house, enumerators were to fill out the columns with information about their 1935 residence.
City, town, or village
For villages with fewer than 2,600 residents, and all unorganized places, enumerators were to enter "R."
State or Territory
Was this house on a farm?
For persons 14 years and older - employment status
Was the person at work for pay or profit in private or nonemergency government work during the week of March 24 - 30?
If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during the week of March 24 - 30?
If the person was neither at work or assigned public emergency work: was this person seeking work?
If not seeking work, did he have a job or business?
If the person was at work in private or non emergency government employment: how many hours did he work in the week of March 24 - 30?
If the person was seeking work or assigned to public emergency work: what was the duration, in weeks, of his unemployment?
What is the person's occupation, trade, or profession?
What is the person's industry or business?
What is the person's class of worker?
Number of weeks worked in 1939 (or equivalent of full time weeks)
Amount of money, wages, or salary received (including commissions)
Did this person receive income of more than $50 from sources other than money wages or salary?
Corresponding number on the Farm Schedule of the person's farm
Person's father's birthplace
Person's mother's birthplace
Person's mother or native tongue
Is this person a veteran of the United States military forces or the wife, widow, or under-18-year old child of a veteran?
If the person is a child of a veteran, is the veteran father dead?
Which war or military service did the veteran serve in?
Enumerators were to mark "W" for World War I; "S" for the Spanish-American War, the Phillipine insurrection, or Boxer Rebellion; "SW" for both the Spanish-American War and World War I; "R" for peacetime service only; or "Ot" for any other war or expedition
For persons 14 years old and over
Does this person have a federal Social Security number?
Were deductions for federal Old-Age Insurance or railroad retirement made from this person's wages in 1939?
If so, were deductions made from all, one-half or more, or less than one-half of the person's wages or salary?
What is this person's usual occupation?
What is this person's usual industry?
What class of worker is this person?
For all women who are or have been married
Has this person been married more than once?
Age at first marriage
Number of children ever born
2. Census of Occupied Dwellings
Location and Household Data
Number of structure in order of visitation by enumerator
Dwelling Unit number within structure
Line number on the corresponding population questionnaire
Name of head of family
Street number and address
Apartment number or location
Color or race of head
3.) All other races
Number of persons in household
Does this family live on a farm?
What is this family's home tenure?
Value of home of monthly rental (in dollars)
Estimated rent of owned non-farm home (in dollars)
II. Characteristics of Structure
Type of structure in which this dwelling unit is located
Structure without business
V.) 1-family detached
0.) 1-family attached
1.) 2-family side-by-side
2.) 2-family other
3-or-more-family structure without business (list number of units)
Structure with business
Other dwelling place
Originally built as:
1.) Residential structure with the same current number of dwelling units
2.) Residential structure with a different from the current number of dwelling units
3.) Non-residential structure
Is the structure in need of major repair?
Year originally built
Number of rooms
1.) Running water in dwelling unit
2.) Hand pump in dwelling unit
3.) Running water within 50 feet of dwelling unit
4.) Other supply within 50 feet of dwelling unit
5.) No water supply within 50 feet of dwelling unit
1.) Flush toilet in structure, in exclusive use
2.) Flush toilet in structure, shared
3.) Non-flush toilet in structure
4.) Outside toilet or privy
5.) No toilet or privy
Bathtub or shower with running water in structure
1.) Exclusive use
Principle lighting equipment
Principle refrigeration equipment
Radio in dwelling unit?
1.) Steam or hot water system
2.) Piped warm air system
3.) Pipeless warm air furnace
4.) Heating stove
5.) Other or none
Principal fuel used for heating
1.) Coal or coke
5.) Fuel Oil
Principal fuel used for cooking
1.) Coal or coke
Is furniture included in the cost of rent?
Estimated cost of rent without furniture (in dollars)
Average monthly cost of...
Value of property (in dollars)
Number of dwelling units on property
Is there a mortgage on the property?
On 1st mortgage (in dollars)
On 2nd mortgage (in dollars)
Are Regular payments required...
5.) On another regular payment plan?
6.) On no regular payment plan
Amount of each payment (in dollars)
Do payments include an amount for the reduction of principal?
Do payments include real estate taxes?
Interest rate now being charged (in percentages)
Holder of the first mortgage (or land contract)
1.) Building and loan
2.) Commercial bank
3.) Savings bank
4.) Life insurance company
5.) Mortgage company
6.) Home Owner's Loan Corporation
And to view the actual blank census forms, click on 1940 Census Questionnaires.
This information was retrieved from The US Census Bureau.