Census page – left side column numbers

I replied to a FB query with a detailed explanation and thought it would be a good “How To” blog post for my readers.

Here is a mini lesson on what to look for on census pages.

1930 - mix up in census input on page

I had posted on the FB group page “Unravelling Your Roots” a screen print of this 1930 census page with this statement:

I was trying to figure out the “son” “brother” and “boarder” on this page when I looked over to the left side and noticed the numbers and arrows.

I wish the color function on Ancestry dot com would work correctly and not make me do extra work, (my people are just the first three people).


One of the members of the group, asked for an explanation of the numbers, on the margins of the census page.

Here is how I responded:

on a census page each household gets a number so the census taker can keep track of each house he went to; example #162, #163, #164, #165.

In this 1930 census page, the people I was looking for are in #165 household; Floyd, Mary and Michael. The computer highlights the people it thinks are in that household and highlighted Head, Mother, Boarder, Son, Brother, Boarder which is logical because each household usually begins with “Head”.


Note: The Ancestry dot com web site algorithm assigns (highlights) the households looking at the role column; head, wife, son…” but it does not look at the “house visited” column. Although, I was told in a comment, that the highlight tool only follows the instructions of the index input. [Note: index is the transcribed page] [Maybe I will have to do a study on this.]


Back to the mini lesson:

My people in household #165 should only be Head, Mother and Boarder per my records, so who are these other three (3) people?

To answer this question I look at the far left columns of the page for the numbers; address numbers or census house count numbers.

1930 - mix up in census input on page

It looks like the 1930 census taker had miscounted the previous households #162 and #163 and used the bottom of the page to add on members to those households. He made notes and drew arrows to make sure the census assigned those additions to the proper household;

the Son: Coolbright, William going to #162

and the next two Brother: Ambert, Julius and Boarder: Oakes William F going to #163.

This explains the additional names and where they belong.


PS: another good point was added in a comment:
Liz Brown — BTW, I sometimes see a person who I know is a relative listed as a boarder or a lodger, so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind–could be a clue to another part of the family.


Once I determined how the page entries should be viewed I posted a correction through the Ancestry dot com report issue:

1930 - mix up in census input on page 2


I hope this will help you to understand some of the markings on the census pages and what to look for when you see unknown names on the index (transcription) page.

Thank You

Jose