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Volume 4, Number 9 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 May 23, 2012
Author's Notes In this article we discuss the 1940 Census which is now available. Hopefully you will be able to find out information about your family that you didn't know before.
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James L. Douthat
1940 Census Research
The 1940 Census is now available and it is free to anyone who needs it. This comes as good news to the avid researcher; however, there is a bad side to it. You know that all things in life come with good news and bad news.
First, we will start with the bad news of this release. To begin your search of the 1940 Census, you have to have the Enumeration District number. The full index of the census is not completed as yet since volunteers from around the world are still in the process of indexing the entire census. It will probably be quite some time before the indexing is finished. However, there are a couple of ways to find the Enumeration District number. First look in the 1930 census for the person in question. The numbers in front of the name are part of the District number. There are two numbers there, first is the prefix number which is a number assigned to each county in the state, usually alphabetical in nature. Secondly, is the district number which may or may not be the same number. This latter number may have changed due to the increase in size of the area in question.
By seeking the Enumeration District, you have to have some kind of address for those living in an incorporated area. If they lived in a rural section of the county, the district might be harder to locate. You might have to consult family address books, birth, marriage or death certificates, city directories, diaries, letters, newspapers, etc. to find some kind of address. Once you have some kind of address but not a District number, take what you have and you can go to a website called One Step at www.stevemorse.org and scroll down to the US Census section. It is a free site to help with the district information. At this site, you will be directed to either the Large City Director, Definition Tool for rural areas or if you have the 1930 District number you will go to One-Step 1930/1940 ED Converter.
Once you have the District Number, what can you expect to find? You will have the household data, name, relation, personal description, education, place of birth, citizenship, residence as of April 1, 1935, and employment status. These are the important questions that we all are asking of our ancestors. There are also supplementary questions that deal with place of birth of parents, mother’s tongue, veterans service, and social security information. In addition, there are a few questions for all women who are or have been married. There are questions such things as number of marriages, age at first marriage and number of children ever born not including stillbirths.
This census will give a great deal of information that you may or may not have on your ancestors. It is all free at NARA’s website at www.archives.gov. Once you have the Enumeration District number, you are on the road to finding your family from just 72 years ago.
I must warn you; however, there are mistakes as in all census work. Do not take all the information as “gospel” without verification. I have researched my wife’s family at length with her mother’s eighteen siblings and on this 1940 census the name of their father was wrong. Since I knew him and all of his children knew him as ‘Gentry’ the census listed him as ‘Gilbert’. Nowhere in his long life was he ever known as ‘Gilbert’. He had a son by that name. In all of his legal documents he is listed as ‘Gentry’. Just be aware that there is always a chance for mistakes in any document.
Civil War Records
1860 Burke County, Georgia Census
Abbeville County, South Carolina 1820 Census and 1825 Map
Greenbrier County, Virginia [West Virginia] 1840 Census
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