1940 Census United States - I Don't Know Where My Ancestor Lived

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I Don’t Know the Town or State Where my Ancestor Lived in 1940

To find your ancestor in the 1940 Census, you need to know where they lived in 1940. You may only know a city or a county without knowing the actual street address but there are helps to assist you.

Try using some of the following suggestions to determine where you ancestor lived in 1940:

  • Create a Timeline. A timeline is a chronological list of events for a person, family, or location. Timelines are helpful to narrow down where your ancestor was living in 1940. Write down on a blank piece of paper or a Blank Timeline major events in your ancestor's life in chronological order. After each date and event on your timeline, write down the places you think the event took place. From your completed timeline, determine the event closest to 1940. Search for your ancestor in that location. Some events may include:
  • birth (of the ancestor and children)
  • marriage
  • death
  • Relatives. Ask older relatives where the person lived in 1940. Relatives may have old address books or letters with return addresses.
  • Earlier censuses. Find the person on the 1930 Census Index, or on a state, or on a church census as close to 1940 as possible. Take note of the street (if any), town, and county where he lived. If the 1930 Census Enumeration District (E.D.) is known, use this online converter to determine the 1940 Census E.D.
  • Vital Records. Addresses on birth, marriage, or death certificates from around 1940 for relatives including their children.
  • World War II Draft Registration. Street addresses were often included in the World War II Draft Registration Cards. They are available for free on FamilySearch.org. Not all states are covered.
  • World War II Army Enlistment Records. These records also include street addresses for those that enlisted. Available on Ancestry.com ($)
  • Obituaries. Search obituaries for clues about the residence of survivors or the deceased. Microfilms of newspapers with obituaries can be obtained via inter-library loan at college or public libraries. To learn the address of newspaper microfilm repositories in each state see the U.S. Newspapers Program on the Internet. Other newspaper columns may also include address information.
  • Tax lists or voting registers Use the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search to find the state and/or county, and then look for the topic Taxation, or Voting Registers for the years around 1940.