Circle this date on your calendar: Monday, April 2, 2012.
Less than two years from now, all genealogists will be able to access the 1940 U.S. Census Records for the first time.
Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and mandates the confidentiality of information concerning individuals. Aggregate information, including statistical models, may be released, but any information about individuals must be kept confidential for 72 years. The 1940 census was conducted on April 1, 1940 so the information cannot be released until April 1, 2012.
The official date for the 1940 Census should be April 1st, but that day will fall on a Sunday in 2012. As a result, it is unclear whether researchers will have weekend access to film at the National Archives or will instead need to wait until Monday, April 2nd, to satisfy their genealogical curiosity. By sticking to normal business days, the National Archives and Records Administration also avoids the appearance of an April Fools' joke.
There is no announcement yet of whether or not an index will be available on April 1 (although commercial websites will undoubtedly begin producing such an index after the census opens). You may want to check in advance for the Enumeration District in the city or town where your ancestors lived. If you would like to help in this effort, visit http://www.stevemorse.org/census/1940instructions.htm for details about the 1940 Street Transcription Project.
1940 was a quieter time for most Americans. While much of Europe and Asia was at war, the United States had not yet been drawn into the conflict. The first military draft number was not drawn until late in the year, in October of 1940, initiating selective service. Living rooms did not yet contain television sets. On the date of the census, President Roosevelt was nearing the end of his second term in office.
The following questions were included on the Population Schedule for the 1940 Census:
- LOCATION: Street, avenue, road, etc.
- LOCATION: House number (in cities and towns)
- HOUSEHOLD DATA: Number of household in order of visitation
- HOUSEHOLD DATA: Home owned (O) or rented (R)
- HOUSEHOLD DATA: Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
- HOUSEHOLD DATA: Does this household live on a farm? (Yes or No)
- NAME: Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household.
- RELATION: Relationship of this person to the head of the household, as wife, daughter, father, mother-in-law, grandson, lodger, lodger's wife, servant, hired hand, etc.
- PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Sex — Male (M), Female (F)
- PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Color or race
- PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Age at last birthday
- PERSONAL DESCRIPTION: Marital status — Single (S), Married (M), Widowed (Wd), Divorced (D)
- EDUCATION: Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940 (Yes or No)
- EDUCATION: Highest grade of school completed
- PLACE OF BIRTH: If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937. Distinguish Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State (Eire) from Northern Ireland.
- CITIZENSHIP: Citizenship of the foreign born
- RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter "R" for all other places
- RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: County
- RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: State (or Territory or foreign country
- RESIDENCE APRIL 1, 1935: On a farm? (Yes or No)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Govt. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Yes or No)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H) in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (O)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Duration of unemploymen up to March 30, 1940 - in weeks
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Industry: Industry of business
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Class of worker
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: INCOME IN 1939: Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions)
- PERSONS 14 YEARS OLD AND OVER — EMPLOYMENT STATUS: INCOME IN 1939: Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Yes or No)
- Number of Farm Schedule
There also was a list of SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS, which would be asked
of those individuals recorded usually on Lines 14 and 29 (although
other lines were also designated for such use and were presumably to
ensure a random sampling).
The Supplementary Questions were as follows:
36. PLACE OF BIRTH OF FATHER AND MOTHER: FATHER
37. PLACE OF BIRTH OF FATHER AND MOTHER: MOTHER
38. MOTHER TONGUE (OR NATIVE LANGUAGE): Language spoken in home in earliest childhood
39. VETERANS: Is this person a veteran of the United States military forces; or the wife, widow, or under-18-year-old child of a veteran? If so, enter "Yes"
40. VETERANS: If child, is veteran-father dead (Yes or No)
41. VETERANS: War or military service
42. SOCIAL SECURITY: Does this person have a Federal Social Security Number? (Yes or No)
43. SOCIAL SECURITY: Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement made from this person's wages or salary in 1939? (Yes or No)
44. SOCIAL SECURITY: If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, (3) part, but less than half, of wages or salary?
45. USUAL OCCUPATION
46. USUAL INDUSTRY
47. Usual class of worker
48. FOR ALL WOMEN WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN MARRIED: Has this woman been married more than once? (Yes or No)
49. FOR ALL WOMEN WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN MARRIED: Age at first marriage?
50. FOR ALL WOMEN WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN MARRIED: Number of children ever born (Do not include stillbirths)
Another item will be of interest to anyone born on or after April 1, 1930, but before April 1, 1940. For the first time, those people will be able to view their own records in the census enumeration of 1940!