Thursday, April 5, 2012

1940 Census - I Said I Wouldn't Do It!

1940 Census Documents
As all genealogists know, the 1940 Census was released to the public on April 2nd.  Volunteers will be working diligently over the next few months to create an index so that it is searchable by name.  Until then, you must have a pretty good idea of where your ancestors were living in 1940 so you can identify the Enumeration District.  You can then scan through the digital images in an effort to find your ancestors.

I knew my ancestors were living at the same address as 1940 as they did in 1930.  After all, it was the Great Depression, and I think most people were happy to be able to survive in their same home.  I knew there were a few pieces of information I'd not collected previously, such as their annual salary, home value and years of education completed.  But I even had a pretty good idea of that information.

After reading that the National Archives reported that there were 37 million "hits" in the first 24 hours, I just had to see what I was missing.  The first thing that surprised me was the clarity of the digital images. The second thing was the ease with which I was able to find my relatives without having done my homework and researched their Enumeration District.

So what new information did I get?  Not much.  I was surprised to see in print that the highest level of education among all four of my grandparents was 9th Grade.  Both grandfathers only had the opportunity to attend school through 7th Grade.  Both grandparents owned homes worth between $6000 and $6700.  One had an annual salary of $1600 and the other a salary of $1900.  All of their children were staying in school longer.

The biggest surprise was discovering that my Great-grandfather, August Vonderheide, had already sold his home and moved in with his son's family.  Even my aunt was under the impression that he still was living in his large home in 1940.  It had been sold to a dentist and his much younger wife who shared the home with a live-in servant.

It was fun finding my husband, soon-to-be 76 years old, in the Census.  His parents were having a more difficult time.They were paying rent of $15 and had an annual salary of $926. He had graduated from high school, but according to my husband, his father was also going to school.

I'm sure I'll find myself scanning through more of the Census when I'm bored with whatever is on television.  I guess I'm glad I gave in and checked it out.  I'll be interested in reading about the really surprising discoveries I'm sure some of my genealogist friends will make about their families.  In ten years, I'll get to see what the 1950 Census has to say about me.

1 comment:

  1. Me too! Only 12 years to the 1950 census ;-D I'm finding lots of family in Detroit. Not a whole lot of new information but I'm looking at the whole area they live in and I am getting information about their setting. Don't know why I didn't do it so specifically before this.


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