1940 Census - Enumeration Districts

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United States 1940 Census go to Enumeration Districts

Enumeration Districts or E.D.s

An enumeration district (abbreviated, E.D.) is a geographical area. Each enumerator is assigned one ED to collect census data on individuals living in the E.D. In each state, an enumeration district is given a unique number including two different numbers separated by a dash (i.e. 15-1). The first number is the assigned number for the county and the second number is for each E.D. within the county.


An enumerator, also called a census taker, was the individual that gathered census information by going house to house in their assigned enumeration district. The enumerator was a paid position and they were given strict instructions on gathering the information about each individual living in the United States during a specific period of time.  For the 1940 Census enumeration, the enumerator had either 2 weeks or 30 days to obtain information from each individual.

For example, the enumerator was instructed to “Enumerate all men, women, and children (including infants) whose usual place of residence (the place where they “live” or have their “home”) is in your district, including persons temporarily absent” on April 1, 1940. A complete list of instructions to enumerators for the 1940 Census.

Why are Enumeration Districts (E.D.s) Important?

The 1940 Census will be released on April 2, 2012 WITHTOUT a corresponding name index.  Without an index, E.D.s are essential in locating a specific address or the town where your ancestor lived. If you have an address for your ancestor, knowing the E.D. numbers that cover that street can narrow down the area you will search line by line for the specific address.  If you have the town where your ancestor lived, you can locate the E.D. number(s) covering the town so you can look through the E.D.(s) line by line.

There are several tools on Steve Morse’s website to help you locate the correct E.D.:

Unified 1940 Census ED Finder - Combined tools to search for and E.D. You may want to start your E.D. search here.

If needed, you may access the following individual Steve Morse tools. If you do not want to use the Unified ED Finder, click "Cancel" on the box which appears when when you select one of the following pages:

Converting Between Census E.D.s in One Step – If you have an E.D. from a previous census such as the 1930 Census

Obtaining E.D.s for the 1940 Census in One Step (Large Cities) - If you have an address for your ancestor

Finding E.D. Definitions for 1940 in One Step – If you know the town or township your ancestor lived in

NOTE: Once you have the correct E.D., you will need to search each page of that census E.D. to locate your ancestor.