Actor Edward James Olmos wishes he could trace his family’s Mexican history back 100,000 years, but he’ll have to settle for 1930 for now. In what one online genealogy firm say is an extraordinary trove of data for American families of Latino descent, the complete 1930 Mexican census is being distributed publicly for the first time. It’s considered a rich mine of information because that year’s census is Mexico’s earliest, most accurate accounting of its population, with 90% of its people counted, according to the firm Ancestry.com.
That sort of family lore — compiled just after Mexico recovered from its tumultuous, bloody Revolution of 1910-20 — not only piques the interest of prominent Latinos such as Olmos but also stands to sate the curiosity of 31.9 million U.S. Hispanics of Mexican descent. America’s own 2010 census just elevated Latinos to the No. 2 group for the first time. The 1930 Mexican census is so antique that it consists of nearly 13 million hard-copy pages, with rows and columns filled out by hand in florid penmanship.