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Genealogy buffs and family historians find a windfall of information in the 1940 U.S. Census data, which was released by the National Archives and Records Administration on April 2, 2012. The digital images are accessible free of charge at 1940Census.Archives.gov.
Census data was carefully chronicled by census takers, recording names, locations, relationships, race, gender, marital status, education, occupation, income, and citizenship. In addition, the enumerator marked (with a circled x) who in the household responded to the 1940 census questions.
The 1940s saw the country’s economy steadily improve after years of stagnation brought on by the Great Depression. “Public Emergency Work” programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Youth Administration (NYA) were vital in helping the country get back on its feet. The 1940 census recorded individuals who took part in these programs as of the week of March 24, 1940. If an individual did work for a government organization, their personnel records are held at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis.
During the Great Depression , many families relocated to find work. To record these migratory patterns, the 1940 “Bonus Census” made note of an individual’s residence as of April 1, 1935.
However, there is no index available to search the 132 million people who were living in the United States, or individual names of the 3,784,664 people living in Missouri. Instead the records can be browsed by state, county and enumeration district (an area that could be covered by a single enumerator (census taker) in one census period).
Knowing the 1940 address of family members makes browsing these records easier. Those addresses can be found on family correspondence and postcards, city directory and phonebook listings, World War II military draft and service records, the 1930 census, and death certificates. Local libraries, archives and historical societies often have these records available for research, and the Missouri Death Certificates are available on the award-winning Missouri Digital Heritage website.
To help create an index, the Missouri State Archives has joined forces with genealogy societies and historical organizations around the state and country as part of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. The index created allows the public to easily search, without charge, every person found in the census and view digital images of the original census pages where that person is listed.
The Missouri State Archives partnerred with the Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA), the St. Louis Genealogical Society, and other local societies to focus the efforts of Missouri researchers on collectively indexing the Missouri portion of the 1940 Census.
Visit www.the1940census.com for information on the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. Additional information is available at Missouri Secretary of State’s Archives page and on the Missouri State Archives Facebook page. Questions about the project can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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