United States Census, 1940 - FamilySearch Historical Records
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United States Census, 1940
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of the United States of America|
|US Flag 1912-1959 (48 stars)|
|National Archives and Records Administration Logo|
|Record Type||Census Population Schedules|
|Record Group||RG 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007|
|Microfilm Publication||T627. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. 4647 rolls.|
|Arrangement||Alphabetically by state, by county and enumeration district|
|National Archives Identifier||16660414|
|National Archives and Records Administration|
What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]
Index to the population schedules of the Sixteenth Census of the United States,1940. The collection is part of Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. The schedules cover the 48 states as well as Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The census will identify the place of residence on April 1, 1940 for each person counted.
Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were in a household on the census day, which was April 1 for the 1940 census. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information collected was supposed to have been about the people who were in the residence on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were then sent to the Census Office of the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. The 1940 census covers 95 to 97 percent of the population.
Population schedules consist of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules are arranged by state, county, place, and enumeration district. The districts are not always filed in sequential order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is usually in the order in which the enumerator visited the households.
The 1940 United States Census Population Schedules include: all states plus American Samoa and Guam, Consular Services, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The U.S. federal census has been taken at the beginning of every decade, beginning in 1790, to apportion the number of representatives a state could send to the House of Representatives. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.
Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care taken by the census enumerator. Realize that any family member or even a neighbor may have supplied information to the census taker. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified. The National Archives has a sample census form you can download.
Additional records and/or images may be added to this collection in the future.
Image Visibility[edit | edit source]
Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]
|You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for United States Census, 1940.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]
The following information may be found in these records:
- Full name
- Age (can be used to calculate an approximate birth year)
- Relationship to the head of household
- Birthplace of the individual and the parents
- Marital status (single, married, widowed, or divorced)
- Year immigrated to the United States
- Whether a naturalized citizen
- Native language if foreign-born and whether can speak English
- Whether a military veteran
- Street address and house number
Collection Content[edit | edit source]
Sample Image[edit | edit source]
How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor
- The approximate age and birth place of your ancestor
- The state and county where your ancestor lived
- The names of other family members
Search the Index[edit | edit source]Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
View the Images[edit | edit source]View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
- Select State
- Select County
- Select Township or Other Division of County
- Select Enumeration District to view the images
How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Add any new information to your records
- Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family
- Birthplaces can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family
- Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses
- Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States
- If they are subject to military service they may have military files in the State or National Archives
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as school records; children’s occupations are often listed as “at school”
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names
- Check for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
- There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned
Research Helps[edit | edit source]
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.
- United States Guided Research
- United States Record Finder
- United States Research Tips and Strategies
- Beginning Research in United States Census Records
- Using the Census to find other records about ancestors
Other FamilySearch Collections[edit | edit source]
These collections may have additional materials to help you with your research.
FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]
- United States Enumeration District Maps for the Twelfth through the Sixteenth US Censuses, 1900-1940
- Florida, 1945
- South Dakota, 1945
FamilySearch Digital Library[edit | edit source]
- Twenty censuses, population and housing questions, 1790-1980
- The history and growth of the United States census : prepared for the Senate Committee on the Census
Known Issues[edit | edit source]
Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]
Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.