Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The 1940 Census - Who Is In It?

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Catch the spirit of family history
Who do you think you are?
It's easy to find out.
The 1940 U.S. Federal Census is the largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set available that records the names of those who were living in the United States at the time the census was taken.
132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940.
Tens of millions of people living in the United States in 1940 are still living today, making this a record set that connects people with recent family records.
Many of these individuals are part of what has been called the greatest generation.
These are people who:
  • Survived the Great Depression
  • Fought in the Second World War
  • Innovated technology (TV, Microwave)
  • Sacrificed in the name of freedom
  • Practiced thrift and compassion
  • Understood hard work and industry
The people in the 1940 census deserve to have their records preserved and made available online.

Rich and Unique Information

The 1940 census included several standard questions, such as: name, age, gender, race, education, and place of birth. But the census also introduced some new questions. One example is that the enumerator was instructed to mark (with a circled x) who in the household responded to the census questions. Other questions included whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940, and the income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939.
New, interesting questions were asked:
  • Where people lived 5 years before
  • Highest educational grade achieved
  • Detailed income and occupation
Read detailed enumerator instructions
As part of the census, 5% of respondents (two names per page) were asked supplemental questions, which included the place of birth of the person's father and mother, the respondent's usual occupation (not just for the week of March 24-30), and questions related to marriage for all women who were or had been married. The enumerators asked women if they had been married more than once, the age at first marriage, and the total number of children to whom they had ever given birth.

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