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Ask Ancestry Anne: How Do I Decipher Census Columns?

Question: What do the numbers in column 30 in the 1910 census mean?  I have many relatives with different numbers in this column

— Jackie

Answer: Column 30 specifies whether the person owns (O) or rents (R) a home.  But I suspect that you are referring to numbers such as the ones written in on the right hand side. They look as if they are written in a different handwriting than the census itself and they don’t appear in every column.

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A little research led me to Census Tick Marks and Codes – Revisited Yet Again! by Elizabeth Shown Mills where she discusses similar numbers on the 1900 census.  Some analysis led her to the number there, so let’s try it here.

Given that the codes do not appear on lines with no occupations, I hypothesize that they are occupation codes. We can create a chart to compare them easily.

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You’ll notice that both Cooks have the code: 14-0-7-X and that the last three nurses are 1-5-6-X.  However, the first nurse is 9-5-6-X.  Am I wrong or did someone write this down wrong?

If you check other pages and the same occupation/industry pair you see the same codes. 


Now this doesn’t add anything new to your knowledge of your ancestor, but it does give you a place to start if you can’t read the handwriting.  Look for the same code, and maybe you can decipher the occupation that way. And nice job of looking at the columns on the census and every little detail!

While we’re looking at details, you may have also noticed that we have indexed a few more columns on the 1940 census, including marital status, street, occupation, industry, whether the house was owned or rented, and highest grade completed.

If I enter “Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia” for Lived In and “Houston Street” for Street and mark both exact, I can see everyone who lived on the same street as my great grandparents in 1940. This can help you locate other relatives and who lived around them.

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I know my grandfather was a rug weaver in a carpet mill in 1940. If I put in the exact location and “Weaver” and mark it exact, I get a list of everyone in that town who was a Weaver.  I suspect these are the people he worked with and knew. 

The details are always important!

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

1940 U.S. Census: 50 States, 134 Million Names, 1 Index

Today is all about numbers. The first is 100, as in 100 percent of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census is now indexed. That means all 50 states are available to search to your heart’s content. Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from.

Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count.

  The Oldest American(s) We came up with a tie for the oldest person in the census: Mary Dilworth of Oxford, Mississippi,  

  and Cándido Vega Y Torres of Guayama, Puerto Rico, both listed their ages as 119.  

  We identified 35,646,274 heads of household, for an average household size of 3.7 people. The average age of the respondent who talked with the enumerator was 43.   Where Did They All Come From? It’s probably not difficult to guess the number one state reported as birthplace on the census, but a couple of the other nine might surprise you. Here they are in order:

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia

 

Amongst foreign-born folks, the top five reported birth countries were

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Poland
  • England  

 

So, What’s Your Name? We can also tell you the top 10 male and female names on the 1940 census: John William James Robert Joseph George Charles Frank Edward Richard   Mary Anna Helen Margaret Elizabeth Dorothy Ruth Marie Rose Alice   If you need proof, just stroll down this street in Butler, PA:  

 

The top five surnames in the 1940 census were

  • Smith
  • Johnson
  • Brown
  • Williams
  • Jones.  

Who Do You Want to Find? But the most important number in the 1940 U.S. Census might be 1. That one date you’ve been waiting to find. That one relative you hadn’t been able to locate until now. That one discovery that opens up a dozen more. One more question, one more record, one last look… So dig in and enjoy. After all, it’s 10 years before we get another one.

1940 Census Indexing at Ancestry.com Now 70% Complete

Last night Ancestry.com posted images from twelve more states, bringing the total to 37 states and the District of Columbia. With 70% of the images now indexed, you’re chances are better than ever for finding family. Newly added is Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah. (Search all 37 states here.)

Take a look at some of the notable names we found in this release.

Chuck Norris
You don’t enumerate Chuck Norris; he enumerates you. OK, so that’s probably not true. Since Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris was only 0/12 of a year old, he probably wasn’t wielding a pen, a sword, or any other weapon. But by 1950, we bet he was already kicking some butt and taking names.

Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite was already reporting the news in 1940, working as a newspaper writer for a news service in Kansas City, Missouri. And that’s the way it is April 2, 1940.

Tom Brokaw
Another award-winning newscaster was just getting his start in life. Thomas J. Brokaw is listed as a “permanent guest” in a hotel in Bristol, Day Co., South Dakota, age 1/12 of a year. We’re glad he decided to venture away from that hotel so that he could bring us the news in a career that has spanned five decades.

Johnny Cash
The “man in black” was just a boy age eight when the census taker came to call in 1940. His dad earned $140 a year as a laborer in a public school to support his wife and five children, and reported additional income, probably from the farm they lived on.

Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon (John Uhler Lemmon III) was no grumpy old man in 1940. He was only 15 and is enumerated with his parents. His father made more than $5,000 that year as a retail and wholesale salesman in the flower industry.

Leonard Nimoy
As Spock, Leonard Nimoy once said, “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” We can’t tell whether it was insufficient facts or just poor recording that led the enumerator to not only list Leonard’s last name as Mimony, but to also list him as female and the “granddaughter” of the head of household (his mother Dora’s father). While not exactly dangerous, it did make it harder to locate him.

Angie Dickinson
Angeline Brown, age eight, living in Edgeley, LaMoure Co., North Dakota, would not stay there for long. In 1942 the family would move to Burbank, California and Angeline would go on to become the movie and TV star that most of us know as Angie Dickinson.

Glen Campbell
The “Rhinestone Cowboy” was living on Bills Delight Road, in Saline, Pike County, Arkansas in 1940, the seventh son of Wesley and Carrie Campbell. His father, a farmer, reported working 60 hours during the week of March 24-30 of that year.

Harry S. Truman
The 33rd president of the United States was a senator in 1940, five years before being elected to the country’s highest office. He’s living in the house at 219 N. Delaware St. in Independence, Missouri—a house built by his wife Bess’ grandfather. This was the Truman family home when they weren’t living in Washington, D.C. His census record indicates that he had four years of high school. He is the only 20th century president that didn’t get a college degree.

Find your family in the 1940 U.S. Census.

Ask Ancestry Anne: Elusive Relatives in Bakersfield 1940

Question:

My Grand Parents names are Bion (Bert) Egbert & Florence Edna Waldo and they lived at 237 S. Hayes Bakersfield California. I found this information in the U.S. Directory. 

Also My Great Grand Parents Henry Dobbs & Julia Dobbs lived at 49 S. Hayes in Bakersfield Ca 

There were other family members that were living on that street. 

I have looked through about 400 pages of the Census and have only found my GGrandmother Mamie Waldo who was a house keeper living with her employer. 

I would like to know if possibly they were never surveyed or could they be in other areas of the Census? Is the area of Bakersfield where they lived actually part of Bakersfield at that time? How do I go about finding this information out? 


Deborah

Answer: 

Oh, those elusive ancestors in the 1940 US Census!

Let’s see what we can find.  I look in the Bakersfield City Directory, just like you did.   Sure enough, on page 419 of the Bakersfield City Directory I find Egbert and Edna Waldo living at 43 S Hayes.   I find Henry and Julia Dobbs living at 49 S. Hayes.

On our 1940 Page, I choose “Already know the cross streets?” 

And there is no Hayes Street.  In fact, I can’t find any of the streets in this area.  Maybe this wasn’t part of Bakersfield.

Let’s try a different way.  I find Egbert B Waldo, who is 14 living with a Bion and Mamie Waldo in Township 3, Kern, California.  This family is living on Brundage Lane, and is right around the corn from Hayes Street.  This sounds like the 1930 enumeration district:  15-30.

So now I choose the “Already know the district from 1930? And look for it under California | 15(Kern) | 30.

 

Oh my, it maps to 6 different ED’s!  I’m going to try and narrow search via the ED maps.  I choose, California, Kern, Bakersfield.  I look at the addresses in the 6 ED’s and 15-45 and 15-46 look to be the most likely.  Also, 15-46 says it is bounded by Highway 58 which is near Hayes.

So my wonderful readers, I feel like I fell short.

Any of you out there have an idea how to get Deborah to the right Enumeration District?  Or is this just one of those situations where it better to wait for the index?

Ancestry Anne

Kris Williams Discusses the Importance of the 1940 U.S. Census