Genealogy: 1940 U.S. federal census tutorial

1940 Census mastheadBy Barry J. Ewell

This is a comprehensive tutorial for researching the 1940 U.S. federal census. You will be introduced to what I have used and shared with thousands to successfully find generations of family. Begin by learning how to use the census as a foundation to effective research, identify, map, and follow family through generations.

The tutorial will expand your knowledge and skills of how to conduct an exhaustive search to find genealogical and Family History records, repositories, resolve research problems and connect with resources researching similar lines.

The tutorial is divided into the following sections:

  • 1790-1940 U.S federal census resources
  • Introduction to 1940 U.S. federal census
  • How to use the 1940 U.S. federal census
  • Expand census research with military records
  • Defining the U.S. federal census
  • Using the 1940 U.S. federal census
  • Questions asked on the 1940 census

1940 sub-1790-1940 U.S federal census resources1790-1940 U.S federal census resources
Click on any of the following years and you will be taken to that years’ census tutorial:

lick on any of the following years and you will be taken to that years’ census tutorial:

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  • U.S. census learning aids. Throughout the 1790 U.S. federal census tutorial find links to resources that I have specifically prepared to help you. In addition, I have written and assembled 190+ articles and resource aids to provide you a more in-depth understanding of the census research process.  I have tried to cover every possible question and angle that you are likely to face in your U.S. census research.  I would encourage you to use the resources often.  The category headings are as follows:
    • 190+ U.S. federal census articles and resource aids
      • U.S. federal census tutorials
      • Census and genealogy forms
      • Census research skills
      • Follow ancestors through the census
      • Researching names in the census
      • Defining ancestor age
      • Expanding census research to other resources
      • Expand your census research with military records
      • Census research best practices

1940 introductionIntroduction to 1940 U.S. federal census
The following are a few of the details that are important to understand about the 1940 U.S. federal census:

1940 Census Map 2Number of persons included in the 1940 census: 132,164,569 people were living in the United States.
1940 census day:  April 1, 1940 and was completed by May 31, 1940
1940 census duration: 1 month
1940 census geography:

  • States and territories enumerated:  48 states, District of Columbia and seven territories were included in the census.
  •  Territories included: Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Panama Canal Zone,  Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The available states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

A few important facts about the 1940 census include:

  • Numeration date. The numeration date is April 1, 1940 and was completed by May 31, 1940.
  • President during census. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Census privacy. The 1940 census were ordered to keep the answers to the census strictly private and could not share the information with anyone.  This was the beginning of 72 year privacy rule.  The general public would not be allowed to view the content of the census for 72 years.
  • Social Security Death Index.  If your ancestor is listed in this census, make sure you check the Social Security Death Index. See the article:
  • Census maps. The Census Bureau produced maps for every district visited by the enumerators (census takers). Each enumerator was the household in the order it was found.  The number of original maps made of the 147,000 enumeration districts. The maps were used as guides for enumerators so they could personally visit every house, building, tent, cabin, hut or other place in which a person might be living or staying. Enumerators were instructed to begin their canvass by carefully checking for completeness and accuracy of the map they were provided. Each enumeration district was designed so it could easily be canvassed by a single enumerator in about two weeks in urban areas or a month in rural areas.
  • First use of questions asked only on a sample basis. The 1940 Census was the first in which enumerators asked a random sample of the population (roughly 1 in 20 people or 5%) an extra set of more detailed questions, including place of birth of their mother and father, mother tongue, veteran status (or whether wife, widow or child of vet), whether deductions for Social Security were made from wages, occupation, industry and class of worker, and, for women who had ever been married, whether they had been married more than once, age at first marriage, and number of children ever born. All in all, 34 questions were asked of all households, with another 16 asked of the one in 20 sample.
  • New in 1940. Questions new to the census included residence five years earlier, income, highest level of school completed and new, detailed questions on unemployment history. Many of these questions were added to measure the effects of the Great Depression.
  • Enumerators and personal visits. There were approximately 120,000 enumerators in 1940. In the 1940 Census, enumerators were told to visit every house, building, tent, cabin, hut or other place in which a person might be living or staying. During each visit, enumerators then interviewed residents and filled out their answers on a portfolio-sized book.
  • Using the Soundex to identify spelling variations of your last name. I like to go to the Soundex converter on RootsWeb and use it to gather my alternate surnames.  For example for my last name of Ewell/Yule,  Soundex converter on Rootsweb me Ewell, Eley, Ell, Ely, and Yule, Yowell, Yale, Yuill.

1940 How to use
Learn how to use the census to effectively find generations of family.  Use the information and clues provided to build out your family tree and expand your research. I have provided a comprehensive review of each question that includes research insights, tips and tricks, and must know information to aid your research.

  • Location (Col. 1-2). We are provided with the city/town/village/borough, county, state and enumeration district where the family resides. This can help in defining geographic areas to search for family and records.
    • Counted in order. The dwelling was the number of houses that were counted.
    • Cities only. The census taker recorded the following for those living in the city: Name of street, house number, dwelling number in order of visitation, and family number in order of visitation.
    • Top of the form. At the top of every census form we are provided with the following information: State, county, township or division of county (e.g., township, town, precinct, district or other civil division), name of institution, ward of city, supervisor’s district number, enumeration district number and enumeration date and enumerator.
    • Finding someone who lived who lived in a hotel, tourist home, trailer camps, or one-night lodging house. People living in those places, except hotels, were counted on April 8th and people living in hotels were counted on April 9th and can be found on separate pages.
    • Name of street and number in urban areas. This census provides the name of the street and house number in urban areas.
    • Google maps. The name was written at the very left of the census page with the number written in column 2.  See if the house/residence still exists today by placing the address, city and state in Google maps to see what appears.
    • Find the home of your ancestors online. When you put the address in websites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com, you can see when the dwelling was built.  You will be able determine if this is in fact the same place your family lived in.  You can also learn what the home is worth in today’s market, square footage, number of bedrooms, baths and images. If the homes built much after 1940, chances are you ancestors did not live in the home, but rather is the land where your family lived.
    • Websites. Search online for genealogy related websites that are hosted by historical and genealogical societies, city, county,  and state libraries/archives, civic and state government see the articles on searching the internet:
    • Use the address to find the Enumeration District (ED) to find your family.  If you are having a difficult time finding you family in the census, try searching for the enumeration district. An enumeration district, as used by the Bureau of the Census, was an area that could be covered by a single enumerator (census taker) in one census period. Enumeration districts varied in size from several city blocks in densely populated urban areas to an entire county in sparsely populated rural areas.  You will first to need to have a physical address for your family.  The address can include the state, county or township, ward, and/or street name and number. If you don’t know the address you can search death certificates of family that died just before or after the 1930 census, time period phone books and city directories, and deed records of family that own homes.  Once you have the address  information you use Enumeration District (ED) search tools found on database sites such as Ancestry.com and Stephen P. Morse’s website.   As a backup you enumeration district maps that show boundaries and the numbers of the census enumeration districts, which were established to help administer and control data collection which you can then use to locate the enumeration district. Do a Google search for “finding enumeration district maps.”
      • Enumeration District numbering. Numbering was altered for 52 of the 56 states and territories enumerated. Each county was assigned a number based on the alphabetical order of the county. That number would then be followed by the specific enumeration numbers for that county such as 4-1, 4-15, 6-7, 22-52. American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, and the Virgin Islands did not use this system.
      • When no one lived in the Enumeration District. If no one lived in the district, the enumerator wrote “no population” on the sheet which was not included in the 1930 census filming.
    • When you don’t know where you family lived. If you don’t know where your family lived in the 1940 census, start your search in the 1930 census.  There is a good chance your family stayed in the same place/area.
    • Societies. Search for historical/genealogical society in the county to learn about community, records developed at the time you family lived in the area, connect with other genealogists who are researching the same surname, groups (i.e., church) to which your family belonged.  When you contact societies, ask them what records they have available or exist in the county in the area at the time your ancestor lived there.
    • Use the address as a reference point. I have used the address as a reference to verify that I have the right family when searching other records.
    • Use the location. Use the location to look for resources such as churches, cemeteries, courthouses, schools, funeral homes, libraries and much more.
    • Modern day repositories. Use the location to identify locations of modern day record repositories that are near the place you family lived (e.g., historical societies, genealogical societies, libraries, archives, court houses.)
  • Family Number (Col. 4). This was the actual number of families counted.
    • Order of household visited. The census is recorded in the order of households visited. Take special note of the dwelling location versus the family number. For example, you could have dwelling 1 and dwelling 2, but for dwelling two you could have families 2, 3 and 4 living in the dwelling 2.  This could be an apartment building or several families living in the same home.  If you have people living in the same building, we need to be asking how they are related.
    • Circle of influence. You can begin to build the circle of influence for your ancestors by seeing who the neighbors were.
    • Search the neighbors. Often neighbors move with neighbors.  Are they the same family? Members of the same congregation? Friends?  If you can’t follow family or find the family in the census, see if you can follow neighbors. Are the given names similar among the neighbors and your family? Similar names run in families.  This might be a clue that they are more than just neighbors. It has been my experience that neighbors, even when they don’t share the same name are related.  Look for the neighbors being the wife’s parents, sister of the husband, siblings of the wife, aunts and uncles and so forth.  When I couldn’t find my ancestors in location, I have searched on the names of know neighbors to find my family. Make sure you include the names of neighbors in your family profile.
  • Renting/ownership and value of home (Col. 4-5).  Answers to these questions for searching land and tax records.
  • Live on farm (Col. 6). If you see a yes, this will give you reason to search land records.
  • Name (Col. 7). Provides members of the household by name.
    • As of April 1, 1940.  List the persons who lived in the home as of April 1, 1940.
    • When you see the “X“. An “X” is placed by the name of the person giving the information (informant) defining who provided the information.  Was it family member or other person which helps define the credibility of the information given.  If the person was not a family member/household, (ie. Neighbor) the census taker was instructed to write the name of this person in the left-hand margin, opposite the entries for the household, thus: “Information from Mary Jones, neighbor.”
    • Individual names of persons living in the home. A listing of all the people who were currently living in the home was provided. If the individual was who lived in the home but was absent, their name would be marked with “Ab.”
    • List order. As a general format family members are listed in the following order: husband, wife, children by age, parents, brothers, sisters, and so forth.
    • Death or birth after April 1, 1940. Individuals who died or birth of children born after April 1, 1930 were not included in the census.
    • When you see the word “infant” in the name column.  If there was a child under the age of 1 who had not been given a first name, they would be marked as “Infant.”
    • Establish “Bookends. I have found it valuable when preparing to follow my ancestors through the census to create what is called bookends.  For example, My great-great grandfather was born in 1846 and died in 1923.  I will then make a list of all the available Federal and state censuses where I can search for his and his family’s records.  This exercise will guide me in knowing where to look and maximize my time.  The first census where he could have appeared is 1850 and the last is 1920 thus creating “bookends.”
    • Follow family through the census. Make it a priority to follow your family through censuses during their lifetime (e.g., federal, state, territorial, and local censuses) as well as census schedules if they exist (e.g., population, agriculture, manufacturing, social statistics, crime, mortality, veterans, slave.)
    • o Check original census. Always seek to see the images of the original census to compare against the transcription.o Surname spellings. By 1930 most individuals could read and write.  It was common practice for the enumerator to ask individuals to spell their surname.  As a common practice I will always search for the phonetic spelling of my last name.
    • Using the Soundex to identify spelling variations of your last name. I like to go to the Soundex converter on RootsWeb and use it to gather my alternate surnames.  For example for my last name of Ewell/Yule,  Soundex converter on Rootsweb me Ewell, Eley, Ell, Ely, and Yule, Yowell, Yale, Yuill.
    • Search same surname. Look closely at persons with the same surname. Could they be a relative? Does the individual show up as a child in earlier census?  Search other records such as deeds, wills to see if the person shows up. Could individuals be in-laws? Check marriages of entire town, neighboring towns and county for husbands of sisters, aunts, and mothers.
    • Too many persons with the same name. There have been times when I am searching common names such as John Smith where I have found many options.  Let’s say the person you were searching for was John Daniel Smith who was married to Virginia. The following are few examples of search options for this person or family member.  Search 1) D L Smith 2) John D Smith 3) Jon Smith 4) Virgina Smith (a unique first name of a family member can be more valuable than a head of household name.) If you still haven’t found your family, use the country and other place of origins (county, state).
    • Search pages before and after the listing of your ancestors. I have found it important to search for the surname several pages before and after the page where you find your family. This can also help in suggesting relationships between neighbors. Look for added clues such as given first names, occupations, places of origin.  When I contact the genealogical/historical societies, I have often sought to find the genealogists who are researching these surnames to compare research.
    • Extract all with same surname. Make it a practice to extract all the persons with the same surname living in the same county.  Are they family? They could be family connection or related connection such as where they came from.  If your family lives near a state our county border, go ahead and extract the persons with the same surnames from neighboring counties.  I have usually found important clues and connections among those with the same surname that has enhanced my research.
    • Nicknames. If you ancestor use a nickname, check to see if you can find the alternate names.  See the articles:
    • Ages of children.  I will always look carefully at the ages of the children and associate them with parents.  For example, if the mother is 28 and there are children who are children who are 10-14, you have to ask the question, “Is this the mother, or a second marriage?”  If a woman lost her husband and remarried, she will be listed as a wife, not a widow.
    • Social Security Death Index.  If your ancestor is listed in this census, make sure you check the Social Security Death Index. See the article:
    • My family just isn’t listed. Is it possible that your family just wasn’t counted? Yes.  There are a lot of reasons why a family wasn’t counted.  As I have searched the topic, I have seen it possible that up to 15% of anyone census could have been missed.
  • Relationship (Col. 8).  The census that asked for relationship to head of household.
    • Meaning of Family. For the purpose of the census, the word “family” means a group of persons living together in the same dwelling. The persons included in this group may or may not be related to each other.
    • Family relationship titles.  In this census you will be seeing titles such as husband, wife, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew and so forth. When you see titles such as niece, nephew, uncle, aunt, you will still need to some investigation to understand which side of the family they belong. As you connect research from other census years, this will become clearer.
    • Non family titles. If the family isn’t related to the family, you will see titles like none, hired, servant, and so forth.
    • Home-maker title. Home-maker refers to the person who was responsible for the care of the home and family.
      • Use of “H”. After the word mother, wife or other term you will see the “wife-h” which identifies that person as being related to the head-of-household.  Only one person will receive this designation per household.
    • Wife many not be the mother of children.  Take special note of the wife as to whether she really is the mother of the children. Look at age gaps between children.  Is the age cap normal? For example, every two years.  Are the age gaps larger than expected? This could be a clue that there was another child or spouse that had passed away.  Look at age of husband and wife.  Are they about the same age? Is one spouse much older than the other?  If yes, this could be a clue that there is second marriage. Look at the ages of children and the place of birth.  This might provide clues of where the parents were married or from where the family migrated.
    • Discovering unknown surnames. The relationships column has been helpful in discovering previously unknown surnames for married daughters, mother-in-law, cousins, and other relatives living with the family.
    • Research all relationships. Make sure that you research all the relationships of your ancestors which include the siblings and their families (i.e., spouses, children), aunts and uncles, grandparents and even cousins.  As you build out the family tree, you will discover key pieces of information about your direct line when searching extended family.  For example, when I couldn’t find information about who were the parents of my direct line in the late 1800’s, I was able to learn the information from research I did on siblings.
  • Sex (Col. 9).You will either see (M) for male and (F) for female.
  • Color or race (Col. 10) In this census these were the choices enumerators used for color: White (W), Negro (Neg), Chinese (Chi), Japanese (Jp), Filipino (Fil), Hindu (Hin), Korean (Kor). Other groups were to be spelled out. This information may be helpful in determining the person’s origins.
  • Age at last birthday (Col. 11). This is not exact date of birth, but it will provide a “ballpark” number that you can use in the help you track the person in the next census and search for birth event records of the time period.
    • Children under the age of 1. Children under the age of 1(born after April 1, 1939) were represented months as fractions such as 1/12 meaning 1 month, 4/12 meaning for months.
      • April 1939 (11/12)
      • May 1939 (10/12)
      • June 1939 (9/12)
      • July 1939 (8/12)
      • August 1939 (7/12)
      • September 1939 (6/12)
      • October 1939 (5/12)
      • November 1939 (4/12)
      • December 1939 (3/12)
      • January 1939 (2/12)
      • February 1939 (1/12)
      • March 1939 (0/12)
    • Search other records. There are good chances that many individuals listed in this census did not have civil birth records. I would always first check to see if there are birth records, and then look for church records. Start your search for these types of records at the genealogical/historical society.
    • Age gaps. Look at age gaps between children.  Is the age cap normal? For example, every two years.  Are the age gaps larger than expected? This could be a clue that there was another child or spouse that had passed away.  Look at age of husband and wife.  Are they about the same age? Is one spouse much older than the other?  If yes, this could be a clue that there is second marriage. Look at the ages of children and the place of birth.  This might provide clues of where the parents were married or from where the family migrated.
    • Children with same age.  If you find children who are the same age, don’t just assume they are twins. Make sure they are not cousins who are being raised in the same home.
    • Military records.  Make sure you search all the males in our family over of 1 year old for military records associated with possible service in the U.S. Military service.  Yes you read right when I said 1 year old.  Individuals who are 1 will most likely be involved in military service in 1950s and later.  The military service periods can include: Indian Wars (before 1890), Spanish American War (1898), Philippine Insurrection  and Boxer Rebellion(1899-1902), WWI (1918), WWII (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam (1955-1975). Search out the military records on not only your direct line but also male siblings, uncles, brother-in-laws, and cousins.  I have found important information about my direct line when reviewing the pension files of extended family. See the section “Expand your census research with military records.”
    • See the article: 1940 U.S. Census birth year reference chart
  • Marital status (Col. 12).  In this series of columns we are told whether the person is single (s), married (M), widowed (Wd) or divorced (D).
    • Widowed.  If the person is widowed, consider looking for wills and probate records, military pensions, death event records of a spouse.
    • Divorced. If the person is divorced search court records for divorced proceedings.
  • Education (Col. 13-14). This identifies if the person had gone to school since March 1, 1940. This will provide clues to look for school records that can associate children with parents.  Look for records such as school census.
    • Highest grade completed. Questions related to education had be asked in previous census, but this the first time where the highest grade completed was asked.  Census takers were instructed to answer as follows:
      • None (0)
      • Elementary school, 1st-8th  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
      • High School, 1st-4th year (H-1, H-2, H-3, H-3, H-4)
      • College, 1st-4th year (C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4)
      • College, 5th or subsequent year
  • Place of birth (Col. 15). This census provides the birthplace of each person along with the mother tongue. If born in the United States, they were to give the state or territory. If the individual had a foreign birth, they were to give the country.
    • Place of birth. This information is critical to helping you develop scenarios of where to search for family.
    • Narrow search. Use this information to narrow your search for records to geographic area even town. Also very helpful with clues to immigration and/or migration.
    • Numerator code. When the enumerator recorded place of birth they could have used a two letter code for a state or they could have written the name of the state out or another abbreviation.  For example North Dakota could have been written as ND, North Dakota.  If you see a code that is only one letter such as O, could mean Oklahoma, Ohio, or Oregon.  Make no assumptions.  You will need to check the 1920 and 1930 census to see if you can find clues to help your resolve the limited information.
  • Residence, April 1, 1935 (Col. 17-20).  These series of questions help to establish a residence of 5 years previous.
    • Enumerator instructions.  The person was asked in what place the person was lived on April 1, 1935  The enumerator was given the following instructions:
      • 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, or State as directed in instructions. (Enter actual place of residence, which may differ from mail address.
      • Enter “R” for all other places (city, town, or village) having 2,500 or more inhabitants and then they were to fill in county (col 18), State or territory or foreign country (col 19), on a farm-Y or N (Col 20).
    • Reason for questions. One of the reasons for the question was Census Bureau’s desire to learn about migration in the US during the 1930’s commonly due to the Depression.  Definitions used by the enumerators were:
      • Migrants where those persons who lived in 1935 in a county, or quasi county, different from the one in which they were living in 1940. (A quasi county was a city that had 100,000 inhabitants or more in 1930.)
      • Non migrants where people who were living in the same county, or quasi county, in 1935 as in 1940.
      • Immigrants were people who were living in the continental United States in 1940 who reported that their place of residence in 1935 was in an outlying territory, possession of the United States, or in a foreign country.
  • Employment Status for ages 14 years old and older (Col. 21-27).
    • Enumerator Instruction
      • The following  was the instruction given to the enumerator Col 21 and 22:
        • Col. 21: Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or non-emergency work during week of March 24-30? (Y or N)
        • Col. 22: If not, was he at work or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NVA, CCC etc.) during the week of March 24-30 (Y or N)
      • For persons answering “no”(neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work) in Cols 21 and 22, the enumerator was given the following instruction:
        • Col. 23: Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Y or N)
        • Col. 24: If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Y or N). Enter “Yes” for a person (not seeking work) who had a job, business, or professional enterprise, but did not work during week of March 24-30 for any of the following reasons: Vacation; temporary illness; industrial dispute; layoff not exceeding 4 weeks with instructions to return to work at a specific date; layoff due to temporarily bad weather conditions.
      • For persons answering “No” to quest. 21, 22, 23, and 24:
        • Col. 25: Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H) in school (S) or other (Ot).
      • For persons answering “Yes” to question 21
        • Col. 26: Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940 if at private or nonemergency Government work (“Yes” in col. 21).
      • For persons answering “Yes” to questions 22 or 23
        • Col. 27: Duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 – in weeks
    • Public emergency work related to Col. 22. The census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The following provide details behind the acronyms:
      • The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief.
      • The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education.
      • The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests.
  • Occupation (Col. 28-31). This indicates the person’s occupation and related information can help one search for employment records.
    • Enumerator Instruction. The enumerator was given the following instructions
      • For a person at work, assigned to public emergency work, or with a job (Yes” in Col. 21, 22 or 24), enter present 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.
    • Enumerator codes. The enumerator used the following codes for class of work
      • Wage or salary worker in private work (PW)
      • Wage or salary worker in Gov’t work (GW)
      • Employer (E)
      • Working on own account (OA)
      • Unpaid family worker (NP)
    • Professional directories. When occupations are mentioned, search for occupational directories. Directories can list as little as a name to entire profiles of families.
    • Occupation/trade. Look carefully at the person’s occupation/trade and define what types of records that might exist. You will see answers such as frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher. I had an ancestor who was a merchant which led me to look for a business license, business/professional directory, ads for his business in the newspaper and related documents all of which I found. Another genealogist, had ancestor who was a member of the clergy which led them to search and find church records.
  • Income in 1939 (12 months ending December 31, 1939) (Col 32-34).

Supplementary Questions

(For persons enumerated in lines 14-29).  At the bottom of each schedule, a supplementary census asked additional questions of two people enumerated (approximately 5% of those enumerate or 1 in 20 persons) on preselected lines on the form. These supplemental questions are related to the

  • Birthplace of the respondent’s parents
  • Veterans’ service
  • Social Security and Railroad Retirement, two new national insurance plans
  • On both the complete form and the supplemental form, people gave the industry they work in and their specific occupation
  • Name (Col. 35). Name of the person being enumerated.
  • Place of birth and mother tongue of Father and Mother for persons of all ages (Col. 36-37). In the 1880 census, there were questions that were related to where the person was born and the birthplace of their mother and father.  In 1940 this question was moved from the primary form to the supplemental schedule.
    • Place of birth. If born in the United States, they were to give the state or territory. If the individual had a foreign birth, they were to give the country. This information is critical to helping you develop scenarios of where to search for family.
    • American citizen not born in U.S. If a person was born abroad, but of American parents, both the birthplace and “Am. cit.” that is, American citizen was recorded in the column. For a person born at sea, “At sea” was recorded. Enter the Place of Birth exactly as the enumerator wrote it.
    • Narrow search. Use this information to narrow your search for records to geographic area even town. Also very helpful with clues to immigration and/or migration.
    • Numerator code. When the enumerator recorded place of birth they could have used a two letter code for a state or they could have written the name of the state out or another abbreviation.  For example North Dakota could have been written as ND, North Dakota.  If you see a code that is only one letter such as O, could mean Oklahoma, Ohio, or Oregon.  Make no assumptions.  You will need to check the 1930 and 1920 census to see if you can find clues to help your resolve the limited information.
    • Mother tongue spoken at earliest age. The enumerator was to record the first language the individual spoke.  If the language is other than English, this is a clue to look for immigration records.
  • Veterans (Military) (Col. 39-41). Use this question as a clue to look for military records.
    • Enumerator coding for war or military service. The enumerator would use the following coding for answers given:
      • World War (W)
      • Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection or Boxer Rebellion (S)
      • Spanish American War and World War (SW)
      • Regular establishment (Army, Navy or Marine Corps) Peace-time Service only (R)
      • Other war or Expedition (Ot)
      • Note:  This is the first time that when Civil War service was not asked.
    • Who responded to the questions. The wife, widow, or under 18-year-old child of a veteran was also required to answer the questions.
  • 14 Years old and over Social Security (Col. 42-44). No Social Security numbers are found in the 1940 census. In the supplemental schedule, the 1940 census included three questions about social security.
  • Usual occupation, industry, and class of worker (Col.45-47).
    • Enumerator instruction for section. 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 Col. 45 and leave Cols. 46 and 47 blank.
    • Enumerator code for “Usual class of worker” in Col. 47.  The following is the code used by the enumerator for Col. 47.
      • Wage or salary worker in private work (PW)
      • Wage or salary worker in Gov’t work (GW)
      • Employer (E)
  • All women who are or have been married (Col. 48-50).
    • Age at 1st marriage. Use the age of first marriage to estimate the year the person was married to find marriage records.
    • Number of children born.  This will help to identify if members if there are any members of the family that are missing.  I define missing as children who have reached an age to leave the home or died between census enumerations.  Women were instructed not to include stillbirths.

1940 military
The records available for these veterans vary but can yield important clues and knowledge about the individual and their family. For example:

  • Pension applications. Search for pension applications and records of pension payments for veterans, their widows, and other heirs. The pension applications usually provide the most information and can include supporting documents such as marriage, birth, and dead records/certificates, pages from family Bibles, family letters, dispositions of witnesses, affidavits, discharge papers and other supporting documents. Even if you ancestor did not receive a pension, look to see if his pension request was denied.
  • Search family photographs and artifacts. Family photographs can be a great source for identifying which persons were involved in which war or military conflict they may have served.  It is rare to individuals serving in the military not have their photograph in their uniform. You may also find cards, letters, and related military memorabilia. I have also found the local newspaper to be a rich source information about family during periods of war.Start your search by looking for these military records:

Later Indian Wars (Before 1890). Look for military records of men serving in the later Indian Wars who are 70+ in the 1940 census. These men would have been born prior to 1880.

Spanish American War 1898. Look for military records of men serving in the Spanish American War who are 60+ in the 1940 census. These men would have been born prior to 1880.

World War I 1917-1919. Be aware that many of the males who are between the ages of 30-50 in the 1930 census were most like be involved in the most recent World War I. These men would have been born in 1900 and before. See the articles:

World War II 1917-1919. Be aware that many of the males who are under the age of 50 years old in the 1940 census will most like be involved or register for the draft in the future World War II. These men would have been born in 1910 and before. See the articles:

Korean War 1950-1953. The Korean War was a war between North and South Korea, in which a United Nations force led by the United States of America fought for the South. Be aware children as young as 5 could have fought in this war. These men and women were more likely to have been born in 1920 or later.

Vietnam War 1955-1975.  The Vietnam War was a a conflict, starting in 1954 and ending in 1975, between South Vietnam (later aided by the U.S., South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and New Zealand) and the Vietcong and North Vietnam. The U.S. highest involvement was during the 1960s and 70s. These men and women were more likely to have been born as early as 1930 or later.

Researching military headstones. Military headstones have evolved through time. See the following articles for details:

1940 defining
A census is a government-sponsored enumeration of the population in a particular area and contains a variety of information — names, heads of household (or all household members), ages, citizenship status, ethnic background, and so on. Here are some different types of census records you are likely to come across in your research.

U.S. federal census is also called a population schedule. Federal census records provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information and to learn more. Compiled in the United States for every decade since 1790, census population schedules are comprehensive, detailed records of the federal government’s decennial survey of American households. Information from the schedules is used by the federal government for demographic analysis.

The schedules themselves, of interest primarily to genealogists, contain the personal information of the survey respondents. To protect the privacy of the people whose names appear in each schedule, census records are restricted for 72 years after the census is taken and are not available to researchers during that time.

1940 Using
I’ve effectively used the 1940 census to conduct find and use the following information:

  • Identify head of household
  • Identify members of household by name
  • Identify relationships—surnames of married daughter, mother-in-law, cousins, other relatives
  • Indicate that wife may not be mother of kids
  • Identify ages of individuals by name
  • Begin to establish family relationships (e.g., spouse, children, siblings, parents)
  • Identify people of color: White (W), Negro (Neg), Chinese (Chi), Japanese (Jp), Filipino (Fil), Hindu (Hin), Korean (Kor)
  • Begin to identify possible remarriages and step relationships
  • Identify birthplace of parents-immigrant information
  • Supplement birth/marriage info. Due to relationship info.
  • Locate and identify birthplaces
  • Identify month of birth
  • Identify year of marriage
  • Determine year of immigration
  • Identify occupations
  • Locate and identify real estate
  • Locate and identify family who are neighbors
  • Identify spelling variations
  • Locate and identify family in other census substitute records (e.g., probate inventories, tax lists)
  • Locate and identify children not yet known
  • Locate and identify possible parents
  • Locate and identify possible children not listed in later censuses
  • Differentiate between families of the same name
  • Locate and identify possible neighbors who might be family
  • Give clues to genetic symptoms or diseases.

See the article: Build a family profile

1940 questions 2

The following are the questions found in the 1940 United States Census.

LOCATION
Col. 1: Name of street, avenue, road, etc.
Col. 2: House number (in cities and towns).

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Col. 3: Number of household in order of visitation.
Col. 4: Home owned (O) or rented (R).
Col. 5: Value of home.  If owned, or monthly rental, if rented.

  • Where owner’s household occupies only a part of a structure, estimate value of portion occupied by owner’s household.  Thus the value of the unit occupied by the owner of a two-family house might be approximately one-half the total value of the structure.

Col. 6: Does this household live on a farm? (Y or N)

NAME
Col. 7: 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.

RELATION
Col. 8: 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
Col. 9: Sex

  • Male (M)
  • Female (F)

Col. 10: Color or race

  • White (W)
  • Negro (Neg)
  • Chinese (Chi)
  • Japanese (Jp)
  • Filipino (Fil)
  • Hindu (Hin)
  • Korean (Kor)
  • Other reaches, spell out in full.

Col. 11: Age at last birthday

  • Enter age of children born on or after April 1, 1939 as follows:  Born in:
    •  April 1939 (11/12)
    • May 1939 (10/12)
    • June 1939 (9/12)
    • July 1939 (8/12)
    • August 1939 (7/12)
    • September 1939 (6/12)
    • October 1939 (5/12)
    • November 1939 (4/12)
    • December 1939 (3/12)
    • January 1939 (2/12)
    • February 1939 (1/12)
    • March 1939 (0/12)
  • Do not include children born on or after April 1, 1940.

Col. 12: Marital status

  • Single (S)
  • Married (M)
  • Widowed (Wd)
  • Divorced (D)

EDUCATION
Column 13: Attend school or college any time since March 1, 1940? (Y or N)
Col. 14: Highest grade of school completed.

  • None (0)
  • Elementary school, 1st-8th  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • High School, 1st-4th year (H-1, H-2, H-3, H-3, H-4)
  • College, 1st-4th year (C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4)
  • College, 5th or subsequent year

PLACE OF BIRTH
Col. 15:

  • 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
Col. 16: Citizenship of the foreign born

  • Naturalized (Na)
  • Having first papers (Pa)
  • Alien (Al)
  • American citizen born abroad (Am Cit)

RESIDENCE, APRIL 1, 1935
In what place did his 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, or State as directed in instructions. (Enter actual place of residence, which may differ from mail address.

Col. 17: City, town, or village having 2500 or more inhabitants.  Enter “R” for all other places.
Col. 18: County
Col. 19: State (or Territory or foreign country).
Col. 20: On a farm? (Y or N)

PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER – EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Col. 21: Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or non-emergency work during week of March 24-30? (Y or N)
Col. 22: If not, was he at work or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NVA, CCC etc.) during the week of March 24-30 (Y or N)

If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. (“No” in Cols 21 and 22):
Col. 23: Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Y or N)
Col. 24: If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Y or N)

  •  Enter “Yes” for a person (not seeking work) who had a job, business, or professional enterprise, but did not work during week of March 24-30 for any of the following reasons: Vacation; temporary illness; industrial dispute; layoff not exceeding 4 weeks with instructions to return to work at a specific date; layoff due to temporarily bad weather conditions.

For persons answering “No” to quest. 21, 22, 23, and 24:
Col. 25: Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H) in school (S) or other (Ot).

If at private or non emergency Government work (“Yes” in col. 21).
Col. 26: Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.

If seeing work or assigned to public emergency work. “Yes” in col 22 or 23:
Col. 27: 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), enter present 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.

Col. 28: OCCUPATION: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work as – frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher.
Col. 29: INDUSTRY:  Industry or business, as – cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard.
Col. 30: Class of worker

  • Wage or salary worker in private work (PW)
  • Wage or salary worker in Gov’t work (GW)
  • Employer (E)
  • Working on own account (OA)
  • Unpaid family worker (NP)

Col. 31: Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks).

INCOME IN 1939 (12 months ending December 31, 1939)
Col. 32: Amount of money wages or salary received (Including commissions).
Col. 33: Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Y or N)
Col. 34: Number of Farm Schedule.

SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS

  • For Persons Enumerated on Lines 14 and 29.

Col. 35: 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 (Eire) from Northern Ireland.

Col. 36: Father
Col. 37: Mother

MOTHER TONGUE
Col. 38: Language spoken in home in earliest childhood.

VETERANS
Col. 39: If so, enter “Yes”
Col. 40: If child, is veteran – father dead? (Y or N)
Col. 41: War or Military Service

  • World War (W)
  • Spanish-American War; Philippine Insurrection or Boxer Rebellion (S)
  • Spanish-American War & World War (SW)
  • Regular establishment (Army, Navy or Marine Corps) Peace-Time Service only (C)
  • Other war or expedition (Ot)

FOR PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER
SOCIAL SECURITY
Col. 42: Does this person have a Federal Social Security Number? (Y or N)
Col. 43: Were deductions for Federal Old Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement made from this person’s wages or salary in 1939? (Y or N)
Col. 44: If so, were deductions made from all, ½ or more, part but less than ½, 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 Col. 45 and leave Cols. 46 and 47 blank.

Col. 45:  Usual Occupation
Col. 46: Usual Industry
Col. 47: Usual class of worker

  • Wage or salary worker in private work (PW)
  • Wage or salary worker in Gov’t work (GW)
  • Employer (E)

 FOR ALL WOMEN WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN MARRIED
Col. 48: Has this woman been married more than once? (Y or N)
Col. 49: Age at first marriage.
Col. 50: Number of children ever born. (Do not include stillbirths).