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Thread: Detailed 1940 census data

  1. #1
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Detailed 1940 census data

    The detailed 1940 Census data has been publicly released and I am trying to find my dad in there. Damn the Depression and my transient relatives making it hard to figure out where exactly where they were living in 1940 and damn my dad for not answering the phone when I called to get that information.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    split from RTDNTOTO

    I heard folks in the office trying unsuccessfully for hours to get it online. Apparently, two or three other people in the world were interested in doing the same.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, ďWhere are you from?Ē doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    What is the prize for the first person to find Ofos or BUN in the 1940 Census?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    What is the prize for the first person to find Ofos or BUN in the 1940 Census?
    Considering neither had been born, I would guess hearing the words "liar liar pants on fire..."
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, ďWhere are you from?Ē doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Considering neither had been born, I would guess hearing the words "liar liar pants on fire..."
    Thanks for ruining my joke with logic and fact.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    Thanks for ruining my joke with logic and fact.
    Off-topic:
    You can rent me at reasonable rates for your next 'movie night' party, where I will annoyingly point out each and every fault and flaw with the plot line ("those elephants stampeding the village are Asian elephants and this is supposed to be in Africa....").
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, ďWhere are you from?Ē doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I was able to find both of my parents and their families with no difficulty. I already had the street addresses from other sources, like my grandmother's citizenship papers from 1938.

    Unfortunately, both the National Archives site and Ancestry.com have been crashing.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Having a hard time trying to track down my grandpa. His last name got changed around this time plus he was working on cargo ships so he was often out of the country. So I have no idea where to even begin looking. He probably had a permanent address in PA, NJ, or NY but that's like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Found both of my paternal grandparents and their families...still working on my mother's side...fortunately they all lived in very rural areas so there isn't much to look through once I find the area.

    I am downloading the files and saving them to look through, much easier that way (off the archives website anyways)
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  10. #10
    I already found my dad, who was only 7 years old in 1940. Found out my Grandpa was a Driver/Salesman for a bakery and that he made $1,600 a year. They rented a house for $25/month. I was lucky to find it...they happened to be one of the first families enumerated in the huge township they were living in.

    If the census would have taken place just a few months later, my Grandpa and his family would have been living just a mile away in the house that he had been building that summer. It still exists, but the house he was renting on Census Day was torn down in the early 2000s for a Lowe's. I was lucky to get a picture of it before it was raised.

    I've got to say I like the new questions they ask- such as where each person lived in 1935, and income. But for the first time in over 60 years they no longer ask the birthplace of the father and mother of each resident. They only ask that on a random sample of 5% of the population. That's going to make it more difficult to find the ethnic heritage of residents.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    The 1940 census is awesome! For those who havenít delved in, you really need to know where the relatives you are looking for were from as specifically as possible (city/county and even the street will narrow down the search a lot). The data is scanned sheets of the actual door-to-door entries so you canít search by name. At least not yet.

    In 1940, my father and his parents were living out of the country in Venezuela. I was pretty sure my great grandparents were living in this small Oklahoma town called Ada at the time because I remembered my father saying he came to live with them for a few years during WWII (his father returned to Venezuela during the war). I spied the name of my great grandfather on the first sheet I looked at! Definitely the same guy Ė itís a common name, but there arenít that many living in this small town who were self-employed watchmakers with a wife named Bessie and who were both born in Pennsylvania. You can print out (or download) an image of the actual entry sheet, which I also think is pretty cool.

    By this time, the other side of my fatherís family had left Oklahoma for Arizona. It was a classic Dust Bowl migration as they had been farmers but lost the farm and then my g grandmother got TB and they moved to the Phoenix area. She died not long after and most of the kids (aside from my grandfather who stayed behind in Oklahoma as a HS senior because he got a scholarship to Texas Tech) moved on to California. But the kids were mostly women and we lost the surnames when they married so I donít even know who to look for on that side anymore.

    Next stop is my motherís family. Not sure where they were at this time, though. Somewhere in Kansas, Hobbs New Mexico, or Bartlesville Oklahoma. Granddad was an oil field worker so they bopped around a lot at this time.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat View post
    I already found my dad, who was only 7 years old in 1940. Found out my Grandpa was a Driver/Salesman for a bakery and that he made $1,600 a year. They rented a house for $25/month. I was lucky to find it...they happened to be one of the first families enumerated in the huge township they were living in.

    If the census would have taken place just a few months later, my Grandpa and his family would have been living just a mile away in the house that he had been building that summer. It still exists, but the house he was renting on Census Day was torn down in the early 2000s for a Lowe's. I was lucky to get a picture of it before it was raised.

    I've got to say I like the new questions they ask- such as where each person lived in 1935, and income. But for the first time in over 60 years they no longer ask the birthplace of the father and mother of each resident. They only ask that on a random sample of 5% of the population. That's going to make it more difficult to find the ethnic heritage of residents.
    That's probably because the immigration restriction laws passed in 1920 and a few years later not only greatly limited the number of foreign born people allowed into the US but also the quotas gave the demographers an instant idea of where people were migrating from ... they would have the quota from each country for every year, and how much of the quota was used up.

    Also, the Great Depression largely dried up immigration in the 1930s, while many more people already in the country would have likely moved -- and moved further -- between 1935 and 1940 than did in earlier decades, so hence the idea of asking where people lived in 1935. I'm thinking of the mass migration of the Okies from the Great Plains to the West Coast as well as increased migration to cities and towns, but especially the general movement of whites and blacks out of the rural south into cities in the NE and Midwest.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    The 1940 census is awesome! For those who havenít delved in, you really need to know where the relatives you are looking for were from as specifically as possible (city/county and even the street will narrow down the search a lot). The data is scanned sheets of the actual door-to-door entries so you canít search by name. At least not yet.

    In 1940, my father and his parents were living out of the country in Venezuela. I was pretty sure my great grandparents were living in this small Oklahoma town called Ada at the time because I remembered my father saying he came to live with them for a few years during WWII (his father returned to Venezuela during the war). I spied the name of my great grandfather on the first sheet I looked at! Definitely the same guy Ė itís a common name, but there arenít that many living in this small town who were self-employed watchmakers with a wife named Bessie and who were both born in Pennsylvania. You can print out (or download) an image of the actual entry sheet, which I also think is pretty cool.

    By this time, the other side of my fatherís family had left Oklahoma for Arizona. It was a classic Dust Bowl migration as they had been farmers but lost the farm and then my g grandmother got TB and they moved to the Phoenix area. She died not long after and most of the kids (aside from my grandfather who stayed behind in Oklahoma as a HS senior because he got a scholarship to Texas Tech) moved on to California. But the kids were mostly women and we lost the surnames when they married so I donít even know who to look for on that side anymore.

    Next stop is my motherís family. Not sure where they were at this time, though. Somewhere in Kansas, Hobbs New Mexico, or Bartlesville Oklahoma. Granddad was an oil field worker so they bopped around a lot at this time.
    Those are some fascinating stories, wahday.

    In addition to finding my parents (as children) in the 1940 Census, I looked up the occupants of a 4-unit building that a friend recently purchased. Two of the households that lived there in 1940 have the same last names as people we know today... interesting. And the neighborhood was evidently very blue-collar back then, as most of the folks on the street are listed as laborers at textile factories that have long since closed.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    In addition to finding my parents (as children) in the 1940 Census, I looked up the occupants of a 4-unit building that a friend recently purchased. Two of the households that lived there in 1940 have the same last names as people we know today... interesting. And the neighborhood was evidently very blue-collar back then, as most of the folks on the street are listed as laborers at textile factories that have long since closed.
    Oooh! I had not thought to look up addresses of places I have lived (or live now)! What an intriguing idea. My home now is over 100 years old and housed a lot of workers for the narby sawmills that are now being repurposed for housing. In fact, that's where I work now. And all the lumber processed at that time came from the Zuni mountains where we have some property. So, our current house could have been built from trees harvested from our land and milled where I work.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I was able to find my grandma on my mother's side and her family without much trouble... thankfully they lived in the sticks so there were not too many sheets to sift through. No real surprises there except that my great-grandpa's wife was almost 20 years younger than he was. His first two wives died (one of TB and one during or right after childbirth). I learned that between 1930 and 1940 his profession changed from "Mail Carrier" to "Lawyer". Quite a career shift... but he was actually the postmaster for the region of Michigan's Thumb where they lived and was a graduate of the Detroit College of Law. He is easy to find information on though since I guess he was a relatively successful lawyer and there is a section on him in a book on prominent people in Michigan that was published in 1915. The most interesting tidbit (not gleaned from the Census but from other materials) was that he grew up in Wayne County, MI and his uncle, who was born on the family farm in 1827, was the first white child born in Van Buren Township. I thought that was a pretty odd random fact.

    I still cannot find my dad or his family in the 1940 Census. Unfortunately, he cannot remember what street they lived on at the time and they lived in a rather populous area around Cincinnati.
    Last edited by WSU MUP Student; 05 Apr 2012 at 9:55 AM.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  16. #16
    My father's street does not seem to be listed. Though a year later, they found him for the draft.

    I am going to ask my mother where she lived in 1940.

    This is not all that easy to use!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Not sure if I am looking in the right place. Maybe I'm doing this wrong.


    Link please!
    Occupy Your Brain!

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    Not sure if I am looking in the right place. Maybe I'm doing this wrong.


    Link please!
    It's way more complicated than I thought it would be. I can't find my maternal grandmother in the 1940 census based on where I think she was living, I can't find her name in the 1930 census in Oregon because I think she was living in the NE somewhere attending medical school.

    I found my paternal grandmother in the 1930 census in Arizona in the town my father was born in 1932, I haven't finished looking through the 1940 documents for that district though. I am not sure if I will find them though because sometime between 1932 and the early 40's they moved to Oregon.

    Here's the link http://1940census.archives.gov/getting-started/
    You need to have a good idea of where your ancestor lived as the 1940 census is not indexed by name. If they lived in relatively the same place you can try looking them up in the 1930 census by name.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I had an unsettling surprise. My dad always told us he was a 3rd or 4th generation Floridian. The 1940 census shows his dad was born in Minnesota and his mom in Illinois! Well, he always told a good story, I guess...

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    Here's the link http://1940census.archives.gov/getting-started/
    You need to have a good idea of where your ancestor lived as the 1940 census is not indexed by name. If they lived in relatively the same place you can try looking them up in the 1930 census by name.
    Ancestry.com (and probably NARA too) will eventually have a name index for every state. Currently, only Nevada and Delaware are searchable by name. The indexing will take time... there are 3.8 million records!

    I highly recommend this reference tool, which allows you to identify the enumeration district (ED) for a given street address. Unless you want to browse every single Census record for a particular town or city, you'll need the ED in order to browse the records by address.

    If you don't have a street address for your ancestor, you'll have to wait until the name index is available.

  21. #21
    After mistakenly thinking my paternal grandparents were in a different county and clicking through a bunch of useless records, I remembered that they were then living in what would be my birthplace and I quickly found them. Present in the 1930 Census, my uncle born a deaf-mute, is missing in the 1940 Census, having been institutionalized as a ward of the state.Trying to track him down will have to wait until the index can be searched by name as I have absolutely no idea where he was housed.

    Clicking through the different lists -- and seeing the names of grandparents of kids I went to school with -- got me thinking about all the 16 and 17 year old boys (like my dad) and what awaited them and wondering how many of them will not show up in the 1950 Census.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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  22. #22
    After a lot of work, I found my Dad's enumeration district. I still can't find him or his then large family in the records. More searching. Next up: Mom.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    It's way more complicated than I thought it would be. I can't find my maternal grandmother in the 1940 census based on where I think she was living, I can't find her name in the 1930 census in Oregon because I think she was living in the NE somewhere attending medical school.

    I found my paternal grandmother in the 1930 census in Arizona in the town my father was born in 1932, I haven't finished looking through the 1940 documents for that district though. I am not sure if I will find them though because sometime between 1932 and the early 40's they moved to Oregon.

    Here's the link http://1940census.archives.gov/getting-started/
    You need to have a good idea of where your ancestor lived as the 1940 census is not indexed by name. If they lived in relatively the same place you can try looking them up in the 1930 census by name.
    I found my maternal grandmother's brother living in Seattle in 1940. He was a civil engineer earning $2800 the previous year and his house was worth $3500. Still haven't found my grandmother which is curious. Part of the issue in 1930 she was most likely in medical school and living in school housing so not counted. I do know she was living in Portland in 1936 since I found an journal study she co-authored on streptococcus. Crazy what you can dig up on the internets!
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  24. #24
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Found my maternal grandparents. My mother and all her brothers were still living at home. Her older sister was married and lived next door. My parents got married later that year. Over the next few years all of her brothers would be serving in WWII. All made it back. Haven't found the paternal side yet. Little harder because they lived in the country and most of the roads didn't have official names. I think my dad was still sailing on the Great Lakes at that time but I'm not sure.
    ďDeath comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.Ē

  25. #25
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I couldn't find my dad or any of the extended family. Maybe they were still living out on The Ranch in 1940 and didn't get counted. Selective Service found him though and drafted him into the Army shortly thereafter.

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