1940 Census


Hello, my name is Connie Potter. I’m an
archivist here at the National Archives and for the last three or more years we’ve been
working to get the 1940 Census ready for you to look at on April 2, 2012. During World
War II the Bureau of the Census microfilmed the population schedules. We have taken that
microfilm and digitized it. So for the first time the Census will be available digitally.
We’re strip scanning the entire scroll as one image. The next part of the program is
where you would actually deal with individual images, and that’s where it gets split up
into individual frames. We had a team of six people check every image in thumbnail view.
It took us about three months to go through 3.9 million images. This Census is amazing!
120,000 census takers are radiating in a carefully planned pattern across America. This is the
1940 Census but it describes the country during the Depression. It reflects all of the economic
dislocation, how many people were immigrants, how many people had what level of education.
To our enumerators, whoever and where ever they may be, we entrust the performance of
this great enterprise. An enumerator is a census taker. It’s the person who walks
house to house getting the information from the people living in a particular place. You
make it sound like it’s my duty to answer the question. It is your duty. An enumeration
district is the area that an enumerator could cover in a particular time. Two weeks in an
urban area and one month in a rural area. You can try to find people if you know the
enumeration district where they lived. When the Archives digitized the Census we indexed
it to the enumeration district level. And so if you know the enumeration district you
can go right to it. We took each and every image, all 3.9 million of them and we looked
through them individually to make sure that they all had an ED number. What you can do
is find the enumeration district where your family lived. Go on our website and search
“1940 enumeration district descriptions for” and put in the city or the county.
Or you can use enumeration district maps that are all online. If your family lived in New
York City at the corner of Canal and Varick Streets your search would be narrowed to three
enumeration districts: 43, 60 or part of 66 to find your family. Please use this URL and
no other because this one will direct you to the 1940 Census. No other will. Happy searching!

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