United States, Census of Merchant Seamen, 1930 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States, Census of Merchant Seamen, 1930
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
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Record Description
Record Group RG 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census
Collection years 1930
Microfilm Publication M1932. 1930 Census of Merchant Seamen. 3 rolls.
Arrangement Arranged by state, then by enumeration district number and page number.
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
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National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of a name index and images of the Merchant Seamen schedules from the 1930 U.S. federal census. The index is provided by Ancestry.com and corresponds to NARA publication: M1932: 1930 Census of Merchant Seamen.

The schedules consist of large sheets with rows and columns.

The following states have registered vessels listed in this census:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois

  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan

  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were on a vessel on the census day, which was April 1 for this census. The completed forms were then sent to the Census Office of the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. 

This information pertains to individuals and crew members of vessels on April 1, 1930. 

The U.S. federal census has been taken at the beginning of every decade, beginning in 1790, to apportion the number of representatives a state could send to the House of Representatives. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care taken by the census enumerator. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

1930 Census

  • Full name
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Age (can be used to calculate an approximate birth year)
  • Marital status (single, married, widowed, or divorced)
  • Able to read and write
  • Naturalized citizen or alien
  • If able to speak English
  • Occupation
  • Whether a military veteran
  • Address of spouse or next of kin

Collection Content

Sample of indexed information:

John Smith United States Census of Merchant Seamen, 1930
Name John Smith
Event Type Census
Event Date 1930
Event Place New York City, New York
Gender Male
Age 23
Marital Status Single
Race Pan W
Ship Name Orizaba
Birthplace Panama
Birth Year (Estimated) 1907

How Do I Search This Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age of your ancestor
  • The residence of your ancestor

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses
  • Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor

Research Helps

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"United States Census of Merchant Seamen, 1930." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. From "1930 Census of Merchant Seamen." Database and images. Ancestry. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005. Citing NARA microfilm publication T626. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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