Skip to main content

URBS 210: The Wire and the City : Census Information

Finding census schedules, photographs, and maps for places in Baltimore

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 current Decennial Census / American Community Survey geography from an address

Social Explorer and PolicyMap will place your address within some census geographies but not all.

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 Maps, 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, etc.).
  • Go to Ancestry Library Edition
  • Navigate to US Census Records, then year of choice.
  • Navigate to Maryland, Baltimore (Independent City), 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.
  • In the Unified Census ED Finder, enter cross streets for your neighborhood of interest (the house number features 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: Baltimore City, Baltimore, Maryland  Enumeration District: 4-495