Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Grandfather was an Enumerator

My grandfather, Charles Guokas Jr., 1930s
Lately I've been working with my mother, trying to compile all the information we have about her Guokas grandparents and determine what we're missing. I was double-checking my great-grandfather on the 1930 census in Houston, Texas. My great-grandmother had passed away in 1929, but my grandparents and their two children (my mother and her older brother) were sharing his home, along with my great uncle Roy Guokas, then aged 12.

On this census, I noticed that my grandfather, Charles Guokas Jr., then age 26, had listed his occupation as "enumerator" and his industry as "United States Government"! However, I had no idea which district(s) he enumerated. It wasn't the one he lived in.

So, I decided to check the first and last pages of the census for every enumeration district in Houston. If the last page had a different enumerator from the first, I'd scroll back a couple pages. Many last pages were done by I. Marshall Pittman, who I guess was a census supervisor. If the district was especially large, I would check middle pages as well.

In 1930, there were 160 enumeration districts, so this took a while! I finally found my grandfather as the enumerator for District 77:

This area is just south of downtown Houston, and its boundaries were as follows:

View Borders of Houston ED 77, 1930 in a larger map

The district filled 73 pages of census sheets. He worked on it from April 2 through April 15. I have to wonder how much money he made. I. Marshall Pittman also made corrections or additions on another page for this district as well.

I wondered how my grandfather got this job. I found a page on the National Archives website that explained the process.  All applicants had to take a test, which is pictured on the Census Bureau website, as well as below (click on it to enlarge it and read the details).  The census supervisors made their appointments from a list of those who passed the test in their areas.

My mother tells me that this census district was not too far from their home in 1930, and that her father would have easily been able to take a streetcar to the location to work.  This may have been his first foray into government and politics (for I imagine there was SOME politics involved in who got the enumerator jobs).  I was surprised to learn from my mother that my grandfather was a delegate from Texas to the 1932 Democratic party convention in Chicago that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for president and Speaker of the House John Nance Garner of Texas for vice-president

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. I found that my grandmother was an ennumerator in Montgomery too and she did work in her own district. I am going to your link to look up the test. Perhaps I'll do a post on this too.

  2. How cool. I've yet to find an enumerator in my tree, so I enjoy reading about others.