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Indexes and Images

The 1940 Census was released to the public on April 2, 2012. For more information see the National Archives. This is the first census released as digital images. The digital images are available on the National Archives website.

Microfilm and digital images are available for purchase from the National Archives. The Family History Library is planning to purchase digital copies only. 

Indexes will become available as they are completed. For the latest information about completed FamilySearch indexes see the 1940 U.S Census Community Project. On this site learn how you can become part of the community indexing initiative. Also find links to historical and genealogical societies who are involved in indexing the 1940 census.

Until the indexes are completed, other methods can be used to find your ancestors in the 1940 Census. See Wiki articles for help with these various methods:

Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub have created tools to help researchers locate individuals in the unindexed 1940 census.  For an overview of their site see Which One-Step Census Form Should I Use?

Additional Facts About the 1940 Census

  • 4,643 rolls of 35mm microfilm
  • Approximately 3.85 million digital images
  • 132 million names for the US proper plus additional names for US Territories
  • First census to use statistical sampling

Content

The 1940 Census was taken 1 April 1940. For privacy reasons, federal law required a 72-year wait for the census to be released (92 Stat. 915; Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978).[1]

Enumerator Questions

The 1940 Census gives the same basic information obtained from previous census years: name, age, place of birth, family relationships, location of residence, education, and citizenship.

Learn more about:

New Questions

There were a few new questions asked which would help in genealogical research.

1. Name of informant: (Column 7): An “X” is placed by the name of the person giving the information. This would then allow knowing the credibility of the information given.

2. Individual present or absent (Column 7): Those who usually live in the home but currently not there were to be marked with “Ab” as being absent from the home.

3. Residence as of April 1 1935 (Columns 17-20). These series of questions help to establish a residence of 5 years previous.

4. Education (Columns 13-14): A broader spectrum of level of education is given.

5. Employment (Columns 23-33): Specific questions about employment, unemployment and income give greater insights into the lives of the people.

6. Census Sampling used ( 2 lines from each page).  A few more questions were asked concerning mother tongue, parents place of birth, employment, and whether more than one marriage for married females.

7. Besides the Population and Agriculture Censuses, a new census called the “Housing Census” was taken. This separate schedule asked detailed questions about the house, utilities, and mortgage or rent. (Only the Population Schedule exists today)

Value

  • Confirm who was the informant for the census information.
  • Establish residency mid-decade with questions about 1935 residency.
  • Broader spectrum of questions concerning level of education.
  • More specific questions about employment.
  • Census sampling used for two people on each census page,  where additional questions were asked. See this list below under the heading Unique Features and Problems

Unique Features and Problems

1.Census Sampling in the form of additional questions were asked of persons whose names appeared on two designated lines of the Population schedule page. Enumerators were required to ask the supplementary questions "only for the member of the household whose name is entered on one of the lines described above, whether this be the head, his wife, a son or daughter, an infant, a lodger, or any other member of the household." [2] The answers were recorded at the bottom of each Population schedule page. If no one was listed on the designated lines, no questions were asked on that schedule page. About 5% of the population answered these supplementary questions.

These question included:

35. Name
  • Place of Birth of Father and Mother
    36. Father’s Place of Birth
    37. Mother’s Place of Birth
  • Mother Tongue:
    38. Language spoke in home in earliest childhood
  • Veterans - Is this person a veteran or a wife, widow or child under 18 of a veteran?
    39. If so, enter yes
    40. If child, is the father dead?
    41. War or military service
  • Social Security
    42. Does the person have a Federal Social Security number? (Y or N)
    43. Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement taken from this person’s wages or salary in 1939? (Y or N)
    44. If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, (3) part, but less than half of pages or salary?
  • Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker :What occupation does the person regard as his usual occupation and is physically able to do?
    If unable to determine, what occupation has the person worked the longest in the past 10 years and physically able to?
    For a person without previous work experience enter “None” on column 45 and skip columns 46 and 47.45. Usual Occupation
    46. Usual Industry
    47. Usual Class of worker
  • For All Women who are or have been married:
    48. Has this woman been married more than once (Y or N) 49. Age at first marriage
    50. Number of children ever born (do not include stillborn)

2. Place of residence on April 1, 1935. This essentially gave a 5-year census for all persons enumerated.

3. Follow up sheets were used for people not home when the enumerator first visited. Until the census is indexed you will need to check for 3 separate sheet numbering sequences within each enumeration district.

a. Pages were numbered 1A, 1B, 2A, etc. Persons were listed on these pages when they were home when the enumerator first visited.
b. Sheets for revisits to households were numbered beginning on page 61A.
c. On April 8th, people living in hotels, trailer camps, missions, etc., were enumerated beginning on sheet 81A.
d. Not every ED has a page 61 or 81. You will be able to see that no pages were skipped because all pages were stamped (on the A side) consecutively from the first page.

4. 1940 Enumeration Districts were smaller than previous census E.D.'s.

5. For a complete listing of 1940 Census headings see the wiki page 1940 Census Form Headings.

State and Territories Covered

  • All states, District of Columbia,and the Territories listed below:
  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Panama Canal Zone
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Missing Records

A very small number of EDs are missing from the records.

Where to Find the Records

Statistics at the time of the 1940 Census

• U.S. Resident Population: 132,164,569[3]
• Population per square mile of land area: 37.2
• Percent increase of population from 1930 to 1940: 7.3
• Official Enumeration Date: April 1
• Number of States: 48

Rank City Population[4]
1 New York City, NY 7,454,995
2 Chicago, IL  3,396,808
3 Philadelphia, PA 1,931,334
4 Detroit, MI 1,623,452
5 Los Angeles, CA 1,504,277
6 Cleveland, OH 878,336
7 Baltimore, MD 859,100
8 St. Louis, MO 816,048
9 Boston, MA 770,816
10 Pittsburgh, PA 671,659

What Do I Do Next?

Often when a new record is found for an ancestor, the additional information can lead you to reframe your research question, or to ask an entirely new research question. See 1940 Census - What Do I Do Next?

1. Make a copy of the 1940 Census page.
2. Enter the information in your database and document your source.
3. Enter your information into a community tree and document your source.
4. What is your new question?
5. What record or records may answer your question?
6. Is there a Wiki page which can help me with the new question or record?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will there be an index to the 1940 census? If so, when will it be available?
A. Community volunteers are working hard to create a complete index of the 1940 census. Indexes for individual states will be made available as they are completed. Learn more and get involved at The 1940 Census

Q. Are there microfilm copies of the 1940 census? Will they be available at the Family History Library?
A. Great news! The 1940 Census is completely digitized and all digital images are available on FamilySearch

Q. Where can I learn more about the 1940 census?
A. Browse the 1940 pages of this Wiki.  Return to the top of this page and find links to Related 1940 Wiki pages.

Select here for Addtional Frequently Asked Questions.

Websites

References

  1. http://www.census.gov/history/www/reference/genealogy/the_72_year_rule.html
  2. Question 600, http://www.hist.umn.edu/~rmccaa/ipums-europe/usa/voliii/inst1940.html,accessed 20 March 2012
  3. http://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/fast_facts/1940_fast_facts.html
  4. http://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/fast_facts/1940_fast_facts.html

 

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  • This page was last modified on 3 July 2014, at 13:51.
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