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Philadelphia Neighborhood Research: URBS 210/ URBS 206: Census Information

Finding census schedules, photographs, and maps for places in Philadelphia.

What is an enumeration district?

"An enumeration district, as used by the Bureau of the Census, was an area that could be covered by a single enumerator (census taker) in one census period. Enumeration districts varied in size from several city blocks in densely populated urban areas to an entire county in sparsely populated rural areas" (1940 Census website from the National Archives

Census Resources

Finding Census Schedules from an Address (1940 only)

The National Archives have made 1940 Census records available online through the 1940 Census website.  This site is set up for browsing by location. While you can browse by street name, many streets are long and will show you large numbers of results, so in order to find Census schedules for a small area of interest, it is most efficient to find the enumeration district number first.

In order to research your neighborhood of interest:

  • Find a range of addresses and intersections representative of your neighborhood of interest (use Google MapsPhiladelphia Geohistory Network Map Viewer, etc.). You may want to use the Philadelphia Historic Street Index to make sure that the street hasn't changed names over the decades.etc.).
  •  Use the Unified Census ED Finder to find correct enumeration district by street intersection. Make sure to select 1940 as the year at the top.
  • In the Unified Census ED Finder, enter cross streets for your neighborhood of interest (the house number feature doesn't work so well), then click on More Details.
  • Go to the 1940 Census website and enter the state and enumeration district of interest.  You may have to flip through many pages to find your location of interest.

Finding Census Schedules from an Address

Note: Some Ancestry functionality is currently limited for off-campus users. Browsing Census schedules by enumeration district is currently available on-campus only. 
For 1940 Census schedules only, see also http://1940census.archives.gov/,  an open access project of the National Archives

Ancestry.com is a useful tool for accessing census schedules.  Unfortunately for researchers of cities, it was designed primarily for genealogists, and therefore is much easier to search by name of resident rather than location of residence. In order to research your neighborhood of interest:

  • Find a range of addresses and intersections representative of your neighborhood of interest (use Google Maps, Philadelphia Geohistory Network Map Viewer, etc.). You may want to use the Philadelphia Historic Street Index to make sure that the street hasn't changed names over the decades.
  • Go to Ancestry Library Edition
  • Navigate to US Census Records at the bottom of the page, then year of choice.
  • Navigate to Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County, and note how the city is divided up (wards, enumeration districts, etc.).
  • For 1880-1940, use Unified Census ED Finder to find correct enumeration district by street intersection. Make sure to select the year of interest at the top. For 1880, you can also use An urban finding aid for the 1880 federal population census of Philadelphia
  • In the Unified Census ED Finder, enter cross streets for your neighborhood of interest (the house number feature doesn't work so well), then click on "More Details."
  • Go back to Ancestry and find the ward and enumeration district of interest.  You may have to flip through many pages to find your location of interest.

Census Manuscript

Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3752; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 51-2110

Small-Area Historical Census Statistics

Social Explorer is the most comprehensive source for Census data, but it is missing small-area statistics for earlier years. It does not contain areas smaller than county from before 1940, or areas smaller than census tract from before 1990. These tables can be found in print versions of the Decennial Census, listed below. Maps of ward can be found in the Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions.

1960

Census of housing, 1960. Volume III, City blocks: Philadelphia, Pa. Final report HC(3)-344. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1962. PDF. At the library.

1950

Census of housing[, 1950], taken as part of the seventeenth decennial census of the United States. Block statistics. Volume 5, part 143, Philadelphia, Pa. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1952. Online. At the library.

1940

16th census of the United States, 1940. Housing. Supplement to the first series, housing bulletin for Pennsylvania: Philadelphia block statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1942. Online.

1930

"Table 23. Population by Sex, Color, Age, etc., for Cities of 50,000 or More by Wards. " In U.S. Census, 1930: Population.  Vol. III Part 2. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1933. Online. At the library.

"Table 24. Classification of Families, Etc., for Ward of Cities or 100,000 or More (PDF)."  In U.S. Census, 1930: Population.  Vol. VI.  Washington: Government Printing Office, 1933. OnlineAt the library.

1920

"Table 13. Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Ward of Cities of 50,000 or More." In U.S. Census, 1920: Population. Vol. III. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922. Online. At the library.

1910

"Table 5. Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More (PDF)." In U.S. Census, 1910: Abstract with Pennsylvania Supplement. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913. PDF. At the library.

1900

"Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1890 and 1900." In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

"Table 23. Population by Sex, General Nativity, and Color, for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More."  In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

"Table 27. Persons of School, Militia, and Voting Ages, by Sex, General Nativity, and Color, for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More." In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

"Table 101. Number of Dwellings Having Specified Number of Families, with Average Number of Families to a Dwelling." In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

"Table 104. Population, Dwellings, and Families , for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More." In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

"Table 107. Private Families Occupying Owned and Hired and Free and Encumbered Homes, for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More." In U.S. Census 1900: Population. Vol II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Online. At the library.

1890

"Table 19. Population by Sex, General Nativity, and Color, of Place Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More: 1890." In U.S. Census, 1890. Report on Population of the United States at the Eleventh Census. Vol. I, Part I.Washington: Government Printing Office, 1895. Online. At the library.

"Table 89. Total Dwellings and Families, and Persons to a Dwelling and to a Family, for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More: 1890." In U.S. Census, 1890. Report on Population of the United States at the Eleventh Census. Dwellings and Families. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1895. Online. At the library.

"Table 1. Population, Births, Deaths, and Death Rates at Certain Ages, and Deaths from Certain Causes, with Distinction of Sex, Color, General Nativity, and Parental Nativity." In U.S. Census, 1890. Report on Population of the United States at the Eleventh Census. Vital Statistics. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1895. Online.

1880

"Table XIX.Population of Minor Civil Divisions - Pennsylvania." p. 277. In U.S. Census, 1890. Compendium of the Tenth Census. Part I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1883. Online. At the library.

1870

"Table III. Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties." In U.S. Census, 1870. Vol. 1. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872. PDF. At the library.

"Table XI. School Attendance and Illiteracy. Fifty Principal Cities. In U.S. Census, 1870. Vol. 1. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872.  At the library.

"Table XXI. Families and Dwellings of Fifty Cities." In U.S. Census, 1870. Vol. 1. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872. PDF. At the library.

1860

"Table 3. Population of Cities, Town, etc." In U.S. Census, 1860. Population of the United States in 1860 : compiled from the original returns of the eighth census. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864. Online.

1850

"Table II. Population of by Subdivisions of Counties." In U.S. Census, 1850. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1853. Online.