You may have heard all the excitement about the release this week of the 1940 federal census of the United States. As I mentioned in an earlier post, census records can be of great benefit to those researching the history of their homes. The latest census provides the added benefit of asking where the occupant lived in 1935, thus providing you with information on whether or not the current occupants were in your house during that year as well. Since the census is only taken every 10 years, this is very helpful information for house historians.
A big advantage of the 1940 census is that several websites are providing images of the records for no charge, unlike previous censuses. The National Archives, FamilySearch, and Ancestry all have the records though not all states have been uploaded yet. The biggest drawback to the 1940 census right now is that there is no index of people yet. To find the property you are looking for in the 1940 census, the first step is to identify the appropriate enumeration district where the house was located. You can find this by going to the National Archives website link above and entering in the state, county, city, and street name. It is helpful if you can add the nearest cross street to further narrow your search. The results will provide you with a census record to look through. Look on the left hand side of the census, and written vertically is the name of the street. The house numbers appear in column 2. Once you locate your house number you can see who the occupants were, their relationship to each other, whether they owned the house (and its value) or rented, what they did for a living and how much they made. Line 17 identifies if they lived in that same house in 1935.
When I pulled up the enumeration district for my house, I found that there were 30 pages to look through. Believe it or not, my street appeared on the first page! However my homeowner must not have answered the door, because there was a note in the margin that Lindholm was found as entry 277. They were added to the end on page 29 of this district. So be sure and check for notes off to the side if you do not find your house number listed. If you are curious what was asked on the census, you can find a list of the questions here. The 1940 census is another great tool to use when researching the history of your home, or that of an ancestor.