Sunday, April 1, 2012

1 April 1940: Census Workers Start Work in Athens

On this day 72 years ago, Enumerators hired by the U.S. Census Bureau started going door-to-door across Athens and Clarke County and the rest of the nation, asking questions of the city's residents such as:

  • Number of hours worked the previous week
  • If workplace was "Emergency Employment," such as the WPA, CCC, etc.
  • Income in the previous year
  • Value of home
  • Highest grade of school completed

For those born abroad, Enumerators were told to "give country in which birthplace was located on January 1, 1937." Therefore, someone who was born in Prague or Vienna would give their birth nation as Czechoslovakia or Austria, rather than Germany, which had occupied both nations in 1938. Enumerators were also instructed to distinguish between French and English Canada, and Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. 

Because it has been 72 years since the 1940 Census was taken, at 9am on Monday, April 2nd, 2012, the National Archives will be releasing for free the digitized images of the 1940 Census. Due to privacy laws, the Census could not begin to be indexed before this date, but those who know where someone lived in 1940 have a couple of ways to shorten their search for the right Enumeration District they need.

The easiest way is using Steve Morse's Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. By entering address information, or the 1930 Enumeration District, the corresponding 1940 Enumeration District or Districts can be found.  

You can also find the reference map used by the U.S. Census Bureau to create Enumeration Districts by using Steve Morse's Viewing 1940 Enumeration District Maps in One Step utility. These maps have most street names, prominent structures such as schools and factories, lines indicating wards or districts within a city or county, and the Enumeration District for each area. 

So even if all you know is Aunt Katie "lived near the old Check Factory," you can still narrow down which ED is the place to begin your search. The National Archives estimates it will take at least six months to index the 1940 Census, so name searches should be available by the end of 2012.  

Next Saturday, 7 April 2012, the National Archives Southeast in Morrow, Georgia, will host a free workshop on the 1940 Census from 10am to noon. Registration is required, so call (770) 968-2100 or email to reserve your seat or get more information.

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