The 1940 Census: So Many Questions, So Little Time!
March 29th, 2012 by Jessica

Do you ever wonder how long it took the enumerators to capture all of the information about your ancestor’s household during the 1940 Census?

No matter how long it took enumerators to jot it all down, I am glad they faced the challenge with pens at the ready and a smile on their faces.

Some snarky citizens around the country took jabs at the number of questions on this 16th decennial census through editorial blurbs in the local newspapers like this one, published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer in Cleveland Ohio on April 1, 1940, page 7:

We'll Probably Have To

We'll Probably Have To

Main Street Meditations by Eleanor Clarage
We’ll Probably Have To

“The questions to be asked by census takers are so numerous,” writes S. J. Redford, “that I’m wondering if the householder will be expected to invite them to stay for lunch?”

When I have visitors to my house, I always offer a bit of hospitality in the form of a drink.  If it’s close to a meal time, an offer of food is not out of the question.  I wonder how many 1940 Census enumerators were invited to stay for lunch or dinner in 1940?  That’s a number I’d like to see indexed!

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, head over to to find out how you can volunteer as a 1940 Census Indexer.  You can even index on the go with your mobile phone or tablet!

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green