The 1940 United States Federal Census is the largest census released to date and the most recent census available for public access. The census gives us a glimpse into the lives of Americans in 1940, with details about a household’s occupants that include birthplaces, occupations, education, citizenship, and income.
If you had family in the United States during the early twentieth century, you are likely to find at least one relative’s information within these census records. This makes the 1940 census an excellent place to start if you are just beginning to research your family or if family, vital, or religious records are missing.
Historical BackgroundThe U.S. census taken on 1 April 1940 was the 16th census of the United States. It tallied the population of the country at 131,669,000 for the continental U.S. (this excludes both Hawaii and Alaska) and 150,621,231 for the U.S. and all territories and possessions except the Philippines. This represented an increase of 7.2 percent in the continental U.S. since the 1930 census. The ten most populous states in 1940 were
- New York
- New Jersey
Not every house was visited on 1 April. In fact, enumerators didn’t start counting until Tuesday, 2 April. Enumeration districts were planned to allow enumerators to visit every house within two weeks in urban and one month in rural areas. When the census enumerators came to the door, they counted anyone “whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household.” "Ab" was the abbreviation writed after names of people who belonged to the household but were absent on 1 April. Because the official cutoff for the census was 12:01 a.m. on 1 April, babies who were born later that day should not have been included.
Enumeration Districts (EDs) were created to make the job of the enumerators easier. Cities were divided into sections of approximately 2000 residents. This database contains descriptions of the boundaries and images of the ED maps. ED descriptions and maps can be helpful in finding ancestors who are difficult to find in the 1940 Census index.
Enumeration District Boundaries have changed over the years. So it is entirely plausible that even if an ancestor appear in the same ED in consecutive Censuses, they may be in a different ED for 1940 than in previous censuses. The descriptions can be helpful in determining if the ED name has changed.
These maps and descriptions are meant to be used in conjunction with the 1940 US Census.