Wednesday, April 04, 2012

1940 Census now online

The National Archives launched a website containing the detailed interview sheets from the 1940 census.  While statistical compilations are always released within a few years of the completion of the every-ten-years national census, these detailed sheets which contain a wealth of family information are kept confidential for 72 years after they've been collected.  That particular waiting time - 72 years - is the life expectancy of someone born in that year. 

The 1940 census website is still a bit tricky to navigate.  Users may narrow searches by state, county, city/town and street but not by name (at least not yet, someone is apparently working on that).  Experimenting with the site last night trying to find relatives whose 1940 address I knew for sure, I was able to find both I sought after paging through a dozen or two pages.  My point is that if you are even moderately persistent, you should find what you're looking for.

The following information is available:
  • Whether the family owns or rents the property.  If owns, the value.  If renting, the monthly rent.
  • The names, ages, gender, race, education level and place of birth of all living in the household
  • Whether the person had a job in March 1940 and if not was the person using government programs such as the WPA and the CCC for support
  • For each person who was employed, their occupation, industry worked in, number of hours worked per week in March 1940, the duration of their employment, number of weeks worked in 1939, income in 1939, whether the person had income greater than $850 in 1939 from sources other than salary
So check out the 1940 census website and learn more about your ancestors and others that lived in your neighborhood long before you.

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