I confess, the 1940 census wasn’t that big a deal to me. I know, I know. It’s an unparalleled document, a single, enormous map of the entire United States population. And it will be a doorway for millions of folks just getting started on their family history, a 10-year head start over 1930.
But for me, what was there to find? True, it’s the first census that would include my parents, but I already knew what it had to tell me. It would be fun to take a look at see them at home, but it wasn’t going to tell me much, if anything, that was new.
Except, my parents aren’t there.
I’ve looked through the enumeration districts for both hometowns. Nothing. I found three of my mother’s half-brothers, a family of cousins my dad grew up with. But no parents, no grandparents, no homes, no addresses. They simply aren’t where they were supposed to be—or at least, they aren’t where I always thought they were.
Suddenly, 1940 got real interesting. I know my dad’s mentioned that his family lived part of one year in another state. Was it in 1940? And now that I think about it, why did they go? I know the name of my mother’s tiny hometown—I’ve been there. But there was a second marriage and a divorce. Was there a move, too? Apparently I don’t know everything I thought knew.
So move over all you bleary-eyed 1940 junkies. I’m coming in.
Paul Rawlins, Ancestry.com Publications Manager