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Stories from the 1940’s

Been a while since I posted to my blog.  I have been so engrossed in both researching and indexing the 1940 census that became available on April 2nd. In researching I have found so much, but have plenty more to find! Indexing has been  fun and challenging. Some of the handwriting in those days was atrocious! But has put a lot of thought into their indexing software.  Really makes it easy to use.

So far, I have found both my parents, 2 set of grandparents (out of 3), along with various cousins, brothers, and step brothers of my parents. I have also located my mother-in-law in Philadelphia. I got lucky with my mother-in-law. My husband had the address of the house she grew up in. The 1940 U.S. census at the National Archives is set up to where you can search down to the street level and crossroads. Lo and behold there she was as a teenager in that house!

Earl E. Pyatt - 1940s
16-17 years old

I found my Dad yesterday. That was quite a thrill! I thought he was probably already in the Army and stationed at Ft. Hood in Texas. I remember that he told me that shortly before he enlisted his mom, step dad, and step brothers had moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had resigned myself to the possibility that it wouldn’t be easy to find him on the 1940 census. I would have to wait for the indexing to be done. So at this point I decided to just look for my grandmother and family. Santa Fe had 23 enumerated districts in 1940.  Each one with 2-36 census pages. I thought to myself, well this isn’t as bad as some of the larger cities. I took a deep breath and began my search. On the first page of 11th district I spotted my dad’s stepbrother, Nolan! Ah ha! Here they are! Found you! As I glanced up the page looking for my grandmother, there was my Dad! He was 17 years old and had graduated high school! He had worked during the week of March 24-30th for 31 hours and earned $27.00 in 1939.  The census taker does not list his occupation or industry.  Even better, he was one of the 2 people on each page that was picked for supplemental questions. Unfortunately, those questions weren’t that helpful as the census taker must have misunderstood what information he was to collect. Under Birthplace of Father and Birthplace of Mother, the census taker had actually written the names of my Dad’s parents! He did that on all of his pages! The supplemental questions did show that my Dad did not have a social security number at that point and that English was the language spoken in his childhood.

I feel fortunate to have been able to locate some of my immediate family. Primarily because they all came from small towns in the West. But some folks are still looking for their relatives in major cities where currently there are tons of census records to glean through!

All 50 states are available for indexing. A lot has been done so far, but there is still time to help with completing this project! Please head to this link 1940 U.S. Census Community Project and sign up to start indexing. The more that index, the sooner all the states will be available for name searches! Be a part of history!

Disclosure: As part of ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for $100 VISA gift card.

6 thoughts on “Stories from the 1940’s

  1. Great story. I’ve found my mom, grandparent’s and aunts. Still haven’t found my dad, but getting closer. I found his sister and her husband.

  2. I too had trouble finding my Dad in the 1940 Census. I had actually found the street he lived on in Baltimore, not knowing there was 2 sections cut in half by a huge park. I was looking at the wrong side of the park. That’s when I relooked at the enumeration map. There I found the other part of his street, found both next door neighbors, but Dad’s family? How can they misplace a family with 7 children?? The neighborhood was listed on the sheet #6a. On page 64B I found Dad’s family. I guess they were not home when the Census takers arrived as they were listed with many other families from odd streets. Dad was listed as 11, but he was only 10. Did find out that the one brother who we thought was 7 years younger than Dad is actually 8 years younger. I got involved with the indexing too. It can be easy as long as you understand formal 1940 style handwriting. Luckily my Mom was taught by Nuns and had beautifyl formal style handwriting. In Baltimore, Maryland it looks like they used pencil it is so light and hard to read. I have found most of my relatives, I like the one where it says my aunt and uncle were born in North Carolina and Ohio respectively…nope all born in Maryland in the actual home of thier parents. Too funny! MB

    1. Mary Beth…thanks for commenting. It is amazing some of the idiosyncrasies that you find on the census. My grandparents were divorced and both living in a small town. My grandfather’s census entry indicates divorced but my grandmother’s said widowed! I guess as far as she was concerned – he was dead to her! LOL!

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