March 10, 2012

Will You Be In The 1940 Census? - Part 1

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012 I'm On It, But Not In It. No, it's not a riddle. It's the 1940 United States Census. I am not old enough to be IN the census listings (I'll be in the 1950 Census, though when it's released in April 2022). But I'm ON the case for Indexing the 1940 United States census. (Randy Seaver)

The statement above comes from Randy Seaver's blog Genea-Musings.  Ever since I read Randy's opening comment on February 27th, I've thought about it quite a bit because not only am I on it but I am *in* it.  I have volunteered to help index the 1940 census with Family Search - You can help to index this census too.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to seeing exactly what is on this census about my family.  It is also supposed to tell us where our grandparents were born more precisely than in past censuses.  For instance, that means that not only would the census tell us the country (example:  Canada) it would tell us the town, village or city (example:  Ste Anastasie)  I know all of that but want to see what the census says.

Everyone is abuzz about the 1940 census.  Census records are released every ten years.  April 2, 2012 will make ten years the enumeration for the 1940 census began.  It also means that the 72 year privacy wait ends on that date.  No one will receive a copy of this census before April 2nd.  Not, not familysearch, no one.  This is why it is critical that as many as possible sign up to index so it can be done perhaps within six months.  How many indexers there are will determine the length of time it will take.  Because it is not indexed is also why I suspect the NARA site will crash shortly after 9:00 a.m. when millions of people try to access the NARA site for a first glimpse at the census.  I hope I'm wrong!

I attended a lecture about this census presented by Walter Hickey who has worked for many years at the National Archives, Waltham, Massachusetts.  This morning I also listened to a webinar by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers fame .  Both pretty much said the same thing but I enjoyed the refresher provided by the webinar.

When the census is released you can access it on the National Archives Government site.  This is a blank copy of the 1940 census form:

The following questions were asked (from the NARA site):

Questions Asked on the 1940 Census
Many of the questions on the 1940 census are the standard ones: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. But the 1940 census also asks many new questions. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter an [a circled x] after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. The 1940 also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person's father and mother; the person's usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24-30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage.
The complete list of the questions follows:
  • Street, avenue, road, etc.
  • House number (in cities and towns).
Household Data:
  • Number of household in order of visitation.
  • Home owned (O) or rented (R).
  • Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented.
  • Does this household live on a farm? (Yes or No).
  • Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household. Be sure to include:
    • Persons temporarily absent from household. Write "Ab" after names of such persons.
    • Children under 1 year of age. Write "Infant" if child has not been given a first name.
    • Enter X after name of person furnishing information.
  • Relationship of this person to the head of the household, as wife, daughter, father, mother-in-law, grandson, lodger, lodger's wife, servant, hired hand, etc...
Personal Description:
  • Sex - Male (M), Female (F).
  • Color or race.
  • Age at last birthday.
  • Marital status - Single (S), Married (M), Widowed (Wd), Divorced (D).
  • Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940? (Yes or No)
  • Highest grade of school completed.
Place of Birth:
  • If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937. Distinguish Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State (Eire) from Northern Ireland.
  • Citizenship of the foreign born.
Residence, April 1, 1935:
IN WHAT PLACE DID THIS PERSON LIVE ON April 1, 1935? For a person who, on April 1, 1935, was living in the same house as at present, enter in Col. 17 "Same house," and for one living in a different house but in the same city or town, enter "Same place," leaving Cols. 18, 19, and 20 blank, in both instances. For a person who lived in a different place, enter city or town, county, and State, as directed in the Instructions. (Enter actual place of residence, which may differ from mail address.)
  • City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter "R" for all other places.
  • County.
  • State (or Territory or foreign country).
  • On a farm? (Yes or No).

Persons 14 Years Old and Over - Employment Status:

  • Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
  • If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. ("No" in Cols. 21 and 22).
  • Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Yes or No).
  • If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No).

    For persons answering "No" to question 21, 22, 23 and 24.
  • Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot).

    If at private or nonemergency Govt. work. "Yes" in col. 21.
  • Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.
    If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work. ("Yes" in Col. 22 or 23).
  • Duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 - in weeks.
Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker:
For a person at work, assigned to public emergency work, or with a job ("Yes" in Col. 21, 22, or 24), enterpresent occupation, industry, and class of worker. For a person seeking work ("Yes" in Col. 23): a) if he has previous work experience, enter last occupation, industry, and class of worker; or b) if he does not have previous work experience, enter "New worker" in Col. 28, and leave Cols. 29 and 30 blank.
  • Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher.
  • Industry: Industry or business, as cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard, public school.
  • Class of Worker.
  • Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks).

Income in 1939 (12 months ended December 31, 1939):

  • Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions).
  • Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Yes or No).
  • Number of Farm Schedule.

Supplementary Questions 35-50:

For persons enumerated on lines 14 and 29 [about a 5% sample of the population]
  • Name.
For Persons of All Ages:
Place of Birth of Father and Mother
If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937. Distinguish: Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.
  • Father.
  • Mother.

Mother Tongue (or Native Language):

  • Language spoken in home in earliest childhood.
Is this person a veteran of the United States military forces; or the wife, widow, or under-18-year-old child of a veteran?
  • If so, enter "Yes."
  • If child, is veteran-father dead? (Yes or No)
  • War or military service.
Social Security:
  • Does this person have a Federal Social Security Number? (Yes or No)
  • Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement made from this person's wages or salary in 1939? (Yes or No)
  • If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, (3) part, but less than half, of wages or salary?
Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker:
Enter that occupation which the person regards as his usual occupation and at which he is physically able to work. If the person is unable to determine this, enter that occupation at which he has worked longest during the past 10 years and at which he is physically able to work. Enter also usual industry and usual class of worker. For a person without previous work experience, enter "None" in column 45 and leave columns 46 and 47 blank.
  • Usual occupation.
  • Usual industry.
  • Usual class of worker.
For all women who are or have been married:
  • Has this woman been married more than once? (Yes or No)
  • Age at first marriage.
  • Number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths).

Symbols and Explanatory Notes

Column Number
and Heading
Codes UsedCode Meaning
Column 10:
Color or Race
Column 11:
Age at Last Birthday
April 1939
May 1939
June 1939
July 1939
August 1939
September 1939
October 1939
November 1939
December 1939
January 1940
February 1940
Column 14:
Highest Grade of
School Completed
1 to 8
H-1 to H-4
C1 to C4
Elementary School, 1st to 8th
High School, 1st to 4th year
College, 1st to 4th year
College, 5th year or more
Column 16:
Citizenship of
the Foreign Born
Am Cit
Having First Papers
American Citizen Born Abroad
Columns 30 and 47:
Class of Worker
Wage/Salary Worker in Private Work
Wage/Salary Worker in Gov't Work
Working on Own Account
Unpaid Family Worker
Column 41:
War or
Military Service


World War
Spanish-American War; Philippine
Insurrection or Boxer Rebellion
Spanish-American War & World War
Regular Establishment or
Peace-Time Service
Other War or Expedition

Tomorrow I will explain how you can find your family in the 1940 census once you know the ED (Enumeration District) number where your family was living if you know where they were.

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except for NARA information
Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino


Rob said...

An excellent synopsis Lucie. It will be interesting to see if my Mom's first language is listed as French, which it was, or English. It may be the latter, because her parents wanted to "fit in".


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for your post Rob.

It sure will be interesting to see details that have no been on previous enumerations.