Don’t be fooled by the sleepy demeanor of this mustachioed man. It’s 1933, and the world is changing. And the Federal Government would be recording these changes on April 1, 1940.
Over 120,000 enumerators would fan out across 48 states and 2 territories, with copies of this Federal Decennial Census Population Schedule. They would use sled dogs in Alaska. They would go to homes in railroad cars. They would talk to famers, veterans, lodgers, women, and men.
They would count this man (and his ‘stache) and anyone else at home at the time. And since he was a farmer, they would ask him 232 questions as part of the Farm Schedule.
And all this personal information on 132.2 million citizens been kept private and secure for the last 72 years.
But on Monday, April 2, at 9 a.m., we’re releasing the 1940 census!
The 3.8 million images that make up the 1940 census will be available online to search for free at http://1940census.archives.gov/.
There are so many reasons that this is significant—it’s the first time we are releasing our information online through a gov website. It’s the first time there was a supplemental series of questions for 1 in 20 people. It’s the first time that the census did not include a question asking if someone in the household was a veteran of the Civil War. It’s the first time that there was a day just to count transients.
And of course, it’s going to tell us about the people who lived through the Depression and who went on to become the “Greatest Generation.” We’ll find out the stories of migrant families photographed by Dorothea Lange. We can look up Hollywood stars like Anna May Wong. We can find out if Titanic survivor Lucy Ridsdale was still living in an Old People’s Home in Chicago.
And of course, there’s the fun stuff. We know some people identified their occupations as “ham sniffer” and “whistle tester.” What other unexpected occupations will be listed?
Come celebrate the launch of this incredible document! You can join us in person at the National Archives on Monday morning at 8 a.m. Or check http://1940census.archives.gov/ on Monday morning for the URL to watch the celebration online through streaming video.
We’ll also be live tweeting at @USNatArchives using #1940census.
And there will be celebrations and workshops at National Archives facilities in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Worth, Denver, and San Francisco.
Wherever you are and whoever you are looking for, the National Archives wishes you happy searching on Monday morning!