1940 U. S. Census Records Ready for Release on April 2, 2012

Historians, genealogists and other reseachers are eagerly awaiting the release of the 1940 U. S. Census on April 2, 2012. Along with access to  information about individuals – age, residence, family status, occupation and workplace, and so much more,  there are nuggets to be gleaned about relationships, life and life style in pre-World War II America. Over at Forgotten New England today’s posting gives us some information about those days – how citizens reacted to the census survey – bits about the enumerators (census takers) –  with a local Lowell flavor. There’s even access to an instructional video put out by the Census Bureau back in 1940. Here’s an exerpt from the post:

Locally, in Lowell, Massachusetts, fifty enumerators descended upon the city.  A newspaper article from the day before revealed some of the prevailing thoughts among the citizenry as they thought ahead to census day.  William Tully, the Lowell Sun reporter writing the article, noted that local women felt reluctant to give their ages to census enumerators.  Through interviews documented within the article, Tully spoke with various women.  One thought that certain facts should not be collected, like income, since it was already captured in the income tax returns.  She also thought collecting information about the amount of a mortgage on one’s home was unnecessary.

Another woman, who worked in the executive office of a large department store in downtown Lowell, replied:  ”I know nothing about the census questions and I haven’t, as yet, looked into the matter.  As a rule, my husband knows more about these things than I do.”

Read the full article here at forgottennewengland.com.

What does the release of this in formation mean to you? Will you be rushing to the Pollard Library, the UML/Center for Lowell History or signing up as for membership in Ancestry.com? There have been a number of workshops at the PML on how to access and use the 1940 Census. Did you attend any?

A U. S. Census fact:

In keeping with the Census Bureau’s commitment to confidentiality, the Census Bureau information collected in the Decennial Census of Population and Housing on individuals does not become available to the public until after 72 years.”

U. S. Census Bureau Homepage link: http://www.census.gov/


5 Responses to 1940 U. S. Census Records Ready for Release on April 2, 2012

  1. C R Krieger says:

    So much for advertising.  I didn’t hear about the lectures at the Pollard Library.  So much to do and so little time.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. Jack Mitchell says:

    I never really understood the genealogy kick until my sister’s last visit. She belongs to some website that allows for records searching. It was fascinating to watch her click around. “Oh. let’s mark that one.,” she’d say. Or, “Nope. Not that one.” Click. Click.

    Names long forgotten, like my great-granmother Catherine Mitchell or her uncle Joe Barrett, just popped up on her laptop, via the census data, ect. Several times she said, “I can’t wait for the 1940’s Census.”

    Odd. How I felt my roots strengthening with every click. It was the damndest thing.

  3. Joan H says:

    Jack there are many many free genealogy websites on the internet. There are also several good paid ones. I have been doing genealogy for over 35 years. It’s an addiction. LOL
    PS Dick knows how to reach me privately if you have any questions.

  4. Shawn says:

    I’ve been researching my family for well over 20 years myself.
    The onset of computerized databases, and now sites like Ancestry.com (an excellent commercial site) and familysearch.org (a free resource by the Mormon church) has sped up work exponentially.

    What once took weeks to find out, becomes an hour or so on the computer.

    But the fun parts are the visits to courthouses, graveyards and archives to see the actual gravestone, or land deeds, or a will from 150 years ago, or the signature of an ancestor who signed a baptismal certificate or a passenger list during the Irish emigration.

    “Do you Know Who You Are?” on Friday nights highlights the searching of family “mysteries,” drawing many into the hobby. I’ve broken through a number of brick walls myself and solved a couple mysteries.. though there are still a few I’m working on.

    This release of the 1940s census will be a great new asset, but I believe there will be some real server failures during the first weeks of access.

    I had no idea the library did any classes on this either. I’ve just been awaiting the release.