Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 1940 Census

If you are a genealogist, you know all about the release of the 1940 federal census. Genealogydom has been buzzing for months about it. Census records are not released until 72 years after the census was taken - sort of a nod to privacy. Because I am working on my Crusham line in an effort to write a family history book about that branch of my family tree, I looked up my grandparents last night to see if I could find them. The census records are not indexed yet, and probably won't be for months as there is an army of volunteers taking on this immense project. But if you know the enumeration district for your ancestor, you can slowly make your way through the records. The National Archives website walks you (easily, in fact) through the process of finding the enumeration district as long as you know the address.

So I found my grandparents and their 8 children in their house on Rosemont Ave. in Cincinnati. What is interesting about this census is that they not only asked what the person did for a living, but also how much they made! While it is interesting 72 years later to see the figures, I'm sure grandpa wasn't too excited about revealing the number. My then 19 year old mother worked as a sewer for a sporting goods manufacturer for 26 weeks in the previous 12 months of the date of the census and made $520. Her father worked for 50 weeks as a printer for a label company and made $900. So you can really see how much working children were able to help their families financially in the time period coming off the depression.

Another interesting thing in the 1940 census is the fact that they asked the person where they lived in 1935. For those of us conducting house history research, we can now see if the current homeowner (assuming they owned the house and were not renting-and this is asked on the form) also lived in the house in 1935. This takes the house research back another 5 years. Pretty cool!

When time allows, it will be fun to go and look at my other family members who will be making guest appearances in my book. Maybe after the indexing is done!