Wednesday, April 04, 2012

1940 Census

The government released 1940 census data this week. I've spent a few hours looking up my parents and grandparents embedded deep within the scanned documents. 
The search is not easy because there were no electronic databases then. All the data was collected by enumerators and handwritten on census forms. 
These forms were subsequently scanned into jpeg images. To find what you're looking for, you must know the state, county, and city. Then you start paging through the scanned images.
Fortunately, our enumerator wrote clearly so it's easy to spot family, friends, and acquaintances as you flip through.
I read where the census website has been getting 100 of thousands requests per minute during the first few hours the data were available.
So what is the fascination with all this data? Well, it helps us to tell the story of our past and puts limbs on our family trees.
I have a lot more searching to do, but it felt strangely comforting to see my parents and grandparents listed there on the page.
Genealogists love census data, because it fills in missing pieces of the historical record. They don't have to take someone's word, that a family lived in Dora, Alabama in 1940. The census enumerator wrote it down right there on his sheet, 72 years ago.


  1. Researching one's ancestry is truly fascinating! I hope you are able to fill in as many spaces of your tree as possible! Take care

  2. Anonymous6:58 AM

    So great you were able to find them.

  3. My parents are both crazy into geneology. My mother is having a hard time because now all of the records are in German. She needs to hire someone to help her. My dad has traced his roots back to Charlemagne! (And yes, he hired someone to help him...) But they've both done an impressive amount of geneology work. It's interesting to hear about your ancestors.

  4. You're so lucky being able to look at your 1940 census - the latest one we're allowed to see here in the UK is the 1911 census as 100 years has to pass before we can see the information.

    Happy Researching!


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