Federal census records can be very helpful to those who are researching the history of their home or an ancestor’s home in the United States. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opens census records to the public seventy-two years after the official census date. Since the 1940 census date was April 1st, this census is scheduled for release in April 2012, and it will be displayed for the first time as digital images on the NARA website. In the past researchers have had to rely on old microfilm or paid subscription sites to look at census records.

So what pieces of information found on the 1940 census will help house researchers? In column four you will be able to tell if the home was owned or rented by the occupant. You will also see in column five the home value or monthly rental amount. Columns twenty-eight through thirty-two deal with the occupation of the occupant, including salary. The occupation can be helpful to know if a business was operated out of the home, and may provide you with another clue on other records to search for your homeowners.

The 1940 census also asks the residence of the occupant on April 1, 1935. If your homeowner was in that same house in 1935, you have just traced the house history back another five years! These records are one more tool for you to utilize in your search for who walked your halls before you.