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Finding Daddy in the 1940 Census

Robert, Judy, and James Szucs, with John Mekalski (and John Szucs, Jr. in the doorway), c. 1942

I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. As I write this we’re 28 hours from the release of the 1940 census.  Yes, we’re measuring it in hours now.  This is the first census that I’ll be able to see that includes my dad. He was a young boy in 1940 and I’ll find him, his brother and sister, and my grandparents living in Cleveland, Ohio.

He’s told me a lot of stories about when his early years—how during the war years, his family would follow what was going on in Europe with maps, how he got the scar on his arm running from a loose dog, memories of his grandparents, and so much more. The 1940 census will help me to build on the stories he told me, and those my grandma told me—how they were very poor when they first got married and had a difficult time during the Great Depression and how tough it was with three young children at that time.  

Were they still feeling the effects in 1940? I know that by 1940, they had bought a house, and I have the address where I expect to find them. The census will tell me how much that house was worth and who their neighbors were.

Was Grandpa working at that time? Was he unemployed at any time in 1939? How much did he earn? I’ll learn that as well.

Even more than the details on the form, sharing this record with my dad is what I’m looking forward to most. Who knows what new stories he’ll be reminded of and can share with me?

Why is the clock moving so slowly?

Juliana Smith, employee since 1998

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