New Blog Series: My First 40 Finds in the 1940 Census
May 30th, 2012 by Jessica

Welcome to My First 40 Finds in the 1940 US Census! This blog series is a tribute to the first 40 entries that I located without the use of an index.

The 1940 US Federal Census was released online to the public on April 2, 2012. Within the first three days, I had already found 40 families from my various tree branches. I spent six months prior to the release researching the exact addresses and locations for these families so I could find them quickly upon the census release.

Over the next 40 days, each day I will post a census entry in the order it was found.  I will explore the details in the entry, shed light on anything interesting found and put the raw data into perspective.

I encourage other bloggers to run a similar series on their own blogs.  You never know what you’ll discover when you dig deeper into the 1940 Census!

Happy hunting,


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My 1940 Census Search Results to Date
Apr 5th, 2012 by Jessica

As of this writing, the 1940 Census has been public for exactly 72 hours. So far, I am very pleased with what I’ve been able to find.

I did immense amounts of prep work over the past few months, locating exact addresses for family members and their siblings in city directories, World War II registration documents, marriage records, birth certificates and more.  All that hard work has really paid off!

Here are the families I have found since the launch:

Cole/Fitzgerald side:

May Fisher – my great-great-grandmother
Newton “Leroy” Cole – my great-great-grandparents
Lyal Newton Cole – my great-grandparents
George Maywood Fitzgerald – my great-great-grandparents
Vondall “Von” Euart Fitzgerald – my great-grandparents
Leslie Barkley
Milton Barkley
Richard Barkley
Valentine Rue Cole
Howard Glenn Cole
Joseph “Dock” Austin Jarrell
Earl Fisher
Mac “Vernon” Fitzgerald
“A C” Augustus Carlton Sheets

Dreffs/Stroik side:

Mary Karpuk – my grandmother
Walter Anthony Dreffs – my grandfather
Robert Nathaniel Kane – my step-father
Tony Norchyk
Joanna Mielke
Veronica Remyszewski
Andrew Dreffs
Francis Dreffs
Martin S Dreffs
Vincent J Dreffs
Paul Dreffs
Anthony Merkiel
Mary Merkiel
Josephine Juszkiewicz

Green/Fox side:

Fred Ozro Green – my husband’s great-grandparents
Robert “Bob” Green
Stephen Green
Wilma (Green) Wait
Virginia (Green) Stech
Betty (Green) Leversee

Fox side (my brother-in-law’s family):

Ray Gordon Fox
Ferdinand DeSoto Fox
Anna Elizabeth (Doty) Head

Zimmer side (my step-mother’s family):

Peter Joseph Zimmer

I’ll be posting some featured finds in the coming weeks to share the interesting facts on these census entries.  There are some crazy things going on behind the scenes of some of these facts that should be captured for future generations, such as children who were born already but not indexed, children who died days after the census, and even proof that some children never existed!  And that’s just scratching the surface.

I’ve also contributed to the indexing for Delaware and Kansas at – the first two state projects.  It’s easy to index, and it feels great to give back to the community!

Here are the entries I’m still searching for:

Joseph Dreffs
Andrew Dominik
Marion Forbes
Max Earl Green
Archie “Arch” Leland Bostic
John “Charles” Barkley
Helen Hayes
Ernest Otto Buchinger
Leopold “Leo” J. Fisher / Fizer
James Henry Head
Joseph M Karasiewicz
Ivan John Henry Pochyly
Maitland Robert Schaar

More to come soon!

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Door to Door: What Homes Looked Like during the 1940 Census
Mar 31st, 2012 by Jessica

Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Mass

Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Mass

Do you know what your grandmother’s home or neighborhood looked like in 1940?

The Library of Congress has a photostream on Flickr featuring more than 41,000 historical photographs, many of them in astounding original color.

Did you know?  More than 1,800 of the photos posted were taken in 1940 all across the country.

One such example is shown here, titled simply as Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Massachusetts.  Looking through them gives us a taste of what it might have been like to go door to door, enumerating the 1940 Census.

Oh, the stories those enumerators must have heard!  It’s too bad they weren’t equipped with tape recorders or cameras.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a voice sample or a photograph of each individual included with their Census entry?

Another fun thing to do is to check out what your ancestor’s address looks like today using Google Street View.  If you’re lucky, you just might be rewarded with some new clues to your family puzzle.

Good luck searching for your family in the 1940 Census!

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Propaganda & Controversy on the Eve of the 1940 Census
Mar 30th, 2012 by Jessica

Trenton Evening Times

Trenton Evening Times

According to Wikipedia, propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.  Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the desired result in audience attitudes.

A writer for the Trenton Evening Times in Trenton, New Jersey had his doubts about the privacy of information divulged during the 1940 Census.

This article, published on Monday, April 1, 1940 encouraged the public to withhold information from local enumerators. If only they knew just how long we’ve had to wait to see their answers, they may have given the truth and nothing but the truth!


On the eve of the 1940 census, it is gratifying to have the following assurance from Governor Moore:

Everyone can rest assured such information will be kept confidential and will not be used to the detriment of any individual.  The answers are for census purposes only, and may not be examined by other agencies of the Government.

That no doubt represents the sincere intent of the Census Bureau.  However, what bothers a great many citizens is the fact that various potentially embarrassing points of information, including personal income and the past marital status of women, will be given to politically-appointed census takers who may, in specific instances, be neighbors or acquaintances of the persons being questioned.

Moreover, it has not always been true that information handed Government bureaus has been treated in a scrupulously confidential manner.  There have been leaks with respect to income tax reports even when, under the law, such data was supposedly kept beyond reach of the curious.

Regardless of the popular reaction during the next few weeks, Congress may well reconsider the whole problem of census policy and work out a less controversial program for adoption 10 years hence.  Information on unemployment, for example, could probably be procured without resort to the provocative queries printed on the 1940 census sheets.

As a result of Senator Tobey’s agitation, many people probably will show considerable reluctance about answering questions that seem to come within the category of bureaucratic snooping.  Even though answers are finally given because of a fear of jail sentences and fines, the national lawmaking body should regard the present protest movement as a sufficient reason for the rearing of future safeguards against unnecessary invasions of the traditionally American right to privacy.

If that’s not propaganda, I don’t know what is! Here’s hoping your ancestor decided to believe Senator Tobey instead of the writer of this article.

To get all these juicy, embarrassing details about Aunt Betty out into the open public as fast as possible, I urge you to volunteer as an 1940 Census indexer. Check out for more information on how you can volunteer.

Check out for more historical newspapers with cool articles like this.

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The 1940 Census: So Many Questions, So Little Time!
Mar 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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Did your ancestor serve as a 1940 Census Enumerator?
Mar 28th, 2012 by Jessica

Taking of Census to Start Tuesday

Taking of Census to Start Tuesday

Did your great-grandmother serve as a Census enumerator?  You might check the local newspaper in her area to find out.

The Springfield Daily Republican in Springfield, Massachusetts was one of many small towns throughout America that published the names of its local enumerators. This article can be found in the April 1, 1940 edition on page 8.


Thompsonville, Ct., March 31 – The enumerators appointed to take the federal census in all sections of the town of Enfield have been notified to begin their duties Tuesday morning, and it is expected the work will be completed in about two weeks.  All people are advised that it will assist the enumerators to answer questions without resorting to argument whether some of the questions are annoying or not.  All the enumerators ask is a little cooperation on the part of the people in order that a perfect census may result.  Among the enumerators selected for the job are, Clarence Mitchell, Stanley Yesukiewicz, Maurice A. Kane, Miss Ethel Byron, Alec Denby, Mrs. Josephine Gorman, Louis J. Ragno, John Smith, William J. Malley, Miss Mary F. O’Brien, Mrs. Ethel Cote, John Tharz and Stanley Kawn.

These enumerators sure had their work cut out for them to convince the public that the questions were necessary and important. The controversy was strong around inquiries of income, divorce and unemployment – all important questions which provided critical data to the political and business leaders of our nation throughout the 1940’s and World War II.

If you’d like to make sure the work of these enumerators is digitized and searchable, go to to learn how you can volunteer as a 1940 Census indexer. Together, we can give back to researchers around the world. It only takes a few minutes of your time.

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Stranger Danger during the 1940 Census Enumeration
Mar 27th, 2012 by Jessica

Census Posers turn Robbers

Census Posers turn Robbers

Some criminals took advantage of the public during the 1940 Census.

In this blurb, published in The Canton Repository in Canton, Ohio on April 1, 1940 (page 9) we see just how dangerous it could be to allow enumerators into your home without asking for identification:

Three men posing as census takers robbed a Chicago home of $50,000 worth of jewelry.

I wonder if the household they robbed earned more than $5,000 in 1940?

If you’re eager to discover what the income of your ancestors was, volunteer as a 1940 Census indexer. Find out how at

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Famous Enumerators of the 1940 Census
Mar 26th, 2012 by Jessica

1940 Census Enumerator Tom Lieb

1940 Census Enumerator Tom Lieb

We know there were about 120,000 enumerators working hard to conduct the 1940 Census. Did you know that some of them turned out to be famous?

Tom Lieb quit his coaching job at Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1939 to aid his dying wife. After she passed away, he was unemployed and stuck in southern California. He took a job as a Census enumerator in Los Angeles, and the rest is history.

This blurb and photo was published in the Omaha Morning World-Herald, Sunrise Edition in Omaha, Nebraska on April 1, 1940, page 9:

New Florida Coach

Tom Lieb was working on his census job in Los Angeles Sunday when announcement was made that he had been named football coach at the University of Florida.  –AP Wirephoto.

Read more about Tom Lieb at Wikipedia.

Do you know of any other famous enumerators who worked during the 1940 Census?  If so, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear about them!

Learn how you can volunteer to index the 1940 Census at

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The 1940 Census Put Working Wives Under Fire
Mar 25th, 2012 by Jessica

The 1940 Census brought forward sensitive issues with topics such as employment of women, unemployment in general and mass migration. Many articles were printed throughout the country with editorials on the questions asked of the citizens during the 16th decennial census.

The article below was published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 1, 1940. The article was (thankfully) buried on page 31. Prior to sharing my insights, I shall present the article so you can formulate your own opinions.

Working Wives Under Fire

Working Wives Under Fire

Working Wives Under Fire, Babson Warns Legislation May Attempt an Answer

Three to Four Million Married Women in Jobs

By Roger W. Babson

Babson Park, Fla., March 31 – The biggest research job ever undertaken by any nation in any time begins on Monday when the 1940 Census starts. Each decade this vast nose-counting project gets bigger, the blanks longer, the questions more personal. However, as long as people want to turn to Uncle Sam for help when they are in trouble they must expect to furnish the information which the government needs in order intelligently to provide such help.

Nonwithstanding all the hullabaloo about “your income,” most anxiously awaited reply will be the question, “Are you employed?” I fear the nation will be shocked when the answers to this query are added, tabulated, established. However, it will be impossible to compare this figure with any previous totals. Our national ideas on unemployment have changed drastically in the last 10 years. We went “unemployment-conscious” during the [?]. Ten years ago a jobless family of four was content to consider that one person – usually the father – was unemployed. Today, that family would report there are four out of work.

Millions of Working Wives

During the last decade, business has been unable to absorb the trek of women into industry and find new jobs for the displaced males. It is estimated that there are 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 married women holding jobs. Of course, in many cases these wives are the sole support of their own family, of their aged parents, or of some other family. My hat is off to any wife with guts enough to support the family if her husband cannot or will not do so. But many people believe something must be done about those cases where both husband and wife are holding down good jobs.

Under normal conditions I would feel that nothing need be done legislatively about the problem of working wives and husbands. Today’s conditions, however, are not normal. There are millions of men out of work, the government is supporting upwards of 20,000,000 people, federal expenses have soared to an all-time peak. At least one-quarter of this money goes directly for relief and another 25 per cent for recover “aids.” In addition, nearly every town and city runs Community Chests.

Adding to the Tax Burden

Yet, from one end of the country to the other there are glaring examples of wives holding down good jobs while their husbands are doing likewise. These cases cover public jobs as well as private employment. So long as we have to hand over one-quarter of our income every year to meet government bills (which have been pushed up to record highs to support the jobless) then some type of formal action to stop this practice is bound to come.

A storm of controversy has raged around this subject for years. Protectors of the home have thumped the tub against working wives on the basis that the place for the wife is in the home. They insist that if we wish to continue with our present system of the family as the unit of society, we must confine the wife to her real role of mother and homemaker. I think a lot of words are wasted in arguing this line. If the family as the unit of society is going out the window, then we cannot stem the tide simply by putting a new law on the books. Only a spiritual family awakening will solve the problem properly.

Real Objections Are Economic

My only objection to married women working is based on cold economic grounds. Working wives take many part-time jobs, they work at lower pay scales than single women, they create a surplus of labor, they fill jobs that unemployed men could handle. The tide of resentment against the practice is rising steadily throughout the nation. I understand that two state Legislatures have already adopted laws designed to force married women out of industry. Twenty-eight other Legislatures have considered the subject.

Yet if legislation is to be adopted, I hope it will be practical, sensible, not too restrictive. There are hundreds of cases that must be made exempt – cases where the wife must help support her own family, an unemployed brother’s family, an aged mother or father. If any legislation is adopted, it should not automatically purge married women from industry. It should merely prohibit both husband and wife from holding certain types of jobs, especially government jobs. In many a family the wife makes a far better breadwinner than the husband. If the wife has the business ability, then why shouldn’t she hold the family job while the husband stays at home and changes the baby’s diapers?

Should Recognize Trend

Working wives can make out a splendid case for themselves. Yet I believe they would be smarter if they recognized the rising tide of national resentment against both husbands and wives working where there is no need for both to work. They would do far better to resign their jobs now and prevent restrictive legislation – legislation which it may take years to appeal. We already have too many regulations shackling employers and employees. But if wives insist on working when their husbands have good jobs, then they must face the day of reckoning.

As a business leader with a Master’s Degree, a government IT employee, a woman who is the wife of a man who is also a government IT employee, this article is very intriguing to me.

The editorial writer, Mr. Babson, makes a strong argument for why women shouldn’t be employed when their husbands are also employed. The issue I have with his argument is that many [insert minority person here] are better at their jobs than some men would be.

In order to have a strong economy, we should have the best person for the job employed in doing that job. Hiring men for the job just because they are men makes for a mediocre workforce at best. The same could be said for a good employee from any minority group. If a person does a good job, we should support him or her, make allowances and put forth expectations to pay appropriate taxes and contribute to our economy.

Are you interested in learning if your grandmother was a working wife in the 1940 Census? 

Head on over to and learn how to become a volunteer indexer.  Together, we can help each other find out sooner than ever before.  It only takes a little bit of time from a whole lot of people. 

Soon, we’ll be searching the indexes and easily locating our strong female ancestors holding down jobs and supporting their families after the Great Depression.

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Can’t Wait for the 1940 Census? Get the Latest Facts and Figures About Texas Now!
Mar 24th, 2012 by Jessica

Latest Facts and Figures About Texas

Latest Facts and Figures About Texas

Many businesses and corporations around the country were eager to get their hands on the results of the 1940 Census. The data provided could help them with planning for how to proceed with business decisions like where their customers lived, how much money they earned and where a business could thrive.

On the other hand, some companies saw the Census information as a threat. Take a look at this advertisement for the Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide, published in The Dallas Morning News in Dallas, Texas on April 1, 1940.

Latest Source of Facts and Figures About TEXAS

Every ten years a new Census is taken – and how Uncle Sam is busy with his 1940 nose-counting job… but it will be many months before the results will be made available.

Meanwhile, if you are in need of late authentic figures concerning Texas, you need not depend on guesswork.  Since 1857 the Texas Almanac has been recognized for its authoritative information about the state… and the 1939-1940 edition is the most complete of all issues.


and State Industrial Guide

– Texas’ greatest reference book, contains the latest population estimates (1938) of counties and cities; up-to-date information covering industry, commerce, agriculture, education, natural resources, government – in fact it answers practically all questions about the state.  It’s of incalculable value to anyone interested in Texas.

Price: 50¢ a Copy

(65¢ by mail, postpaid)

Get your copy now from your nearest bookstore, drugstore, newsstand… or order direct from the publisher –

The Dallas Morning News

Dallas, Texas

NOTE: There will be no newer edition of The Texas Almanac before 1941.

So, what do you think? Does the Texas Almanac answer practically all questions about the state? Does its value exceed that of the 1940 Census?

If your answer is no, then hop on over to and become a volunteer indexer today. We need your help to index this Census and all of its incalculable glorious value!

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