1940 Census Data Availability

by Dave Voelker on February 14, 2011 · 1 comment

in Uncategorized

1940 Census

On April 2, 2012 the National Archives will release the 1940 Census data, which according to law must be kept private for 72 years.  Many genealogists are eagerly awaiting this once in a decade event.  For many this will help piece together some missing elements of their puzzle and it will certainly open up some new questions for many others as well.

Each enumeration of the census asks slightly different questions and the details asked in the 1940 census were as follows:

  1. LOCATION: Street, avenue, road, etc.
  2. LOCATION: House number (in cities and towns)
  3. HOUSEHOLD DATA: Number of household in order of visitation
  4. HOUSEHOLD DATA: Home owned (O) or rented (R)
  5. HOUSEHOLD DATA: Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
  6. HOUSEHOLD DATA: Does this household live on a farm? (Yes or No)
  7. NAME: Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household.
  8. RELATION: 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.
  9. PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Sex — Male (M), Female (F)
  10. PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Color or race
  11. PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Age at last birthday
  12. PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Marital status — Single (S), Married (M), Widowed (Wd), Divorced (D)
  13. EDUCATION: Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940 (Yes or No)
  14. EDUCATION: Highest grade of school completed
  15. 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.
  16. CITIZENSHIP: Citizenship of the foreign born
  17. RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter “R” for all other places
  18. RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: County
  19. RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: State (or Territory or foreign country
  20. RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: On a farm? (Yes or No)
  21. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Govt. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No)
  22. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: 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)
  23. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Yes or No)
  24. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No)
  25. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H) in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (O)
  26. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940
  27. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Duration of unemploymen up to March 30, 1940 – in weeks
  28. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work
  29. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Industry: Industry of business
  30. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Class of worker
  31. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks)
  32. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: INCOME IN 1939: Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions)
  33. PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: INCOME IN 1939: Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Yes or No)
  34. Number of Farm Schedule

There are the usual and expected questions contained here but there are also a few surprises.  One surprise is the amount of questions that deal with employment status.  It should be noted that the Great Depression saw unemployment rates that topped 22% in the late 1930′s and then had edged back down to 15% by 1940 but clearly the Census Bureau was interested in understanding more about the overall return to work of the population at large.

I also found it interesting that a question was asked about income for each individual over the age of 14.  This will be very interesting data to see plotted across a family or a geography.  I expect that will also have a bit more validity than it might in today’s world.  I can not prove it but I believe that it is accurate to say that the Census Bureau and the enumerators that went out into the field were likely held with higher esteem than those that perform this work today.

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