Every 10 years, the US Census Bureau goes door to door and attempts to count every nose in America. They have been doing this since 1790, collecting a variety of interesting data about the people it finds. They have a policy of not releasing the actual census records until 72 years have passed. So, the last records made public were the results of the 1930 census.
While the Census Bureau does not have data online, they do sell and rent microfilm versions of this data to companies and individuals. One company, Ancestry.com, has taken on the task of transcripting and indexing the data and placing the actual census sheet images online. This makes a superb genealogical search tool for people looking to trace family in the United States. Of course you must pay a price for being able to use this service. Ancestry.com does offer a 14-day free trial which I tried and spent countless hours extracting what I could and then cancelling at the last minute. I will go back and pay the fee when I have more fine tuned research questions to ask.
So where was the Dershewitz family in 1930? They were fairly easy to find since the surname was listed as it is spelled today. The census page image yields quite a bit of information.
- The census information was taken at 2136 Honeywell Ave. They were paying $40 a month rent (cheapest on the page).
- Here's who was living there:
- Solomon (age 42 - Head)
- Gertrude (age 38 - Wife)
- Estelle (age 17)
- Jacob (age 15)
- Adolf (age 14)
- Louis (age 12)
- Bella (age 11)
- Helen (age 10)
- Issac Singer (age listed as 67 but may be wrong, Gertrude's father)
- Rose Singer (age listed as 63 but may be wrong, Gertrude's mother)
- Ellis Island records show both Issac (Isaak) and Rose (Rozalia) as 61 in 1921 which would make them about 70 in 1930.
- Age at marriage columns shows the Solomon and Gertrude were married around 1910 in Poland.
- Solomon was employed in or owned a delicatessen and Estelle had a clerical job in a bank. No other jobs listed.
- All were listed as being able to speak English except Rose Singer
- All were listed as naturalized aliens except Isaac and Rose Singer
- The oldest daughter, Gert, was not in the household at this time.
- You can see that the children had taken on americanized versions of their first names. My father was going by Adolf at that time but was legally Abraham.
It must have been a rough time right after the stock market crash and the beginning of the great depression. At least the prohibition years were about to end although I heard stories of the Dershewitz children mixing up alcohol in the bathtub for Dutch Schulz during those rowdy times. We'll see what other stories we can get out of the family members.