Monday, June 18, 2012

1940 Census


The other day I came across a story online talking about how the 1940 census is now online and free to look through. My interest was piqued since, essentially, we know nothing about anyone who ever owned the house except for they had really cool trash.
So I headed over to 1940census.archives.gov to start searching.
You can search by something called an Enumeration District or you can search by Location. I chose location since I wasn't looking for a specific person (apparently that's what the Enumeration District is helpful for).



I entered our state, county, city and street.
Then, if possible, you can enter a cross street. Luckily, we live pretty much right at the intersection of two streets which narrowed things down a bit.
After opening the scanned document and scrolling through a few pages looking for our street name, we found it!


Now of course, you can zoom in on the page and change the brightness and contrast. I'm not going to lie though, it's still pretty difficult to read fancy schmancy census taker cursive (my cruddy 2012 handwriting has RUINED ME!).

One very helpful thing, you can go to the FAQ section on the site and download a copy of all of the questions that were asked along with different code meanings.


I printed that off and then took turns squinting at the computer screen, changing the contrast and filling in the chart.


So, here's the deets on our house in 1940:

Our home was owned by Daniel W. Muck, 72 (not sure of that spelling) and his wife Eva, 68
Their daughter Maude, 45 lived with them as well.
The value of the home was $5,500
It was a "lodging house"
with 5 female lodgers
Ruth Hasler, 18
Margaret Dawson, 21
Katherine Skidmore, 20
Mildred Kingsburry, 31
Another girl whose first name I couldn't figure out. Her last name was Wright and she was 18.

Almost all of the lodgers were stenographers except for Margaret Dawson who was a Labratory Assistant for a photographer.
This was so neat! Hopefully someday I can use these names to do a little more research at our local library or city office. If you live in a house that was around in 1940, it's definitely worth checking out. I had trouble finding information on where I was born (rural Tennessee) though, so be warned that in some areas there may not be information? I'm going to keep trying using the Enumeration District maps, though.
If you're interested, you can even help by indexing the information as a part of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project.

Happy history hunting!

UPDATE:

Daniel and Eva on their wedding day.
I'll post more information as I can find it and confirm it.
Eeeks! Exciting!

4 comments:

  1. France has something similar online, but going back to like the 16th century. My dad has been obsessed with it, trying to pinpoint genealogy.

    Also, when I was an enumerator for the Census 2 years ago, we had to print everything in nice block letters with pencil. Hopefully much easier to discern in 50 years. Of course having it all digital to begin with would've been the smart move.

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    1. That is so cool! I don't think I have any French ancestry but I might have to check that out just for fun. Yeah, hopefully in the future since almost everything is digital they won't have this problem again of trying to decipher these 70 years later. I kind of always wondered if they made enumerators take handwriting tests...

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  2. Muck is a German name. I only know that b/c there is an area in Portland called "Mock's Crest." Apparently they arrived in Oregon, realized that Muck had a negative connotation and changed the spelling to Mock. I read that story in The Oregonian years ago and it stuck with me b/c I used to live in Germany.
    Vanessa

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    Replies
    1. That's really interesting! A good friend of ours is from Germany so I might have to ask him if he ever knew any Mucks : D

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