1940 Census Facts for Features
Background on the 1940 Census: While the original intent of the census was to determine how many representatives each state was entitled to send to the U.S. Congress, it has become a vital tool for Federal agencies in determining allocation of Federal funds and resources. The census is also a key research tool for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists. Many of the questions on the 1940 census are the standard ones: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. But the 1940 census also asks many new questions, some reflecting concerns of the Great Depression. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter a circled x after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24–30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. The 1940 census also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person’s father and mother; the person’s usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24–30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage. For the release of the 1940 census online, the National Archives has digitized the entire census, creating more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps, and enumeration district descriptions.
72 Years Later
Photo: 1940 Census from Associated Press
On April 2, the National Archives and Records Administration will make individual records from the 1940 Census available to the public for the first time. We invite you to explore our site to see how America has changed since the 1940s. We use compelling links, infographics, and photos to compare the 1940 Census with corresponding information about the 2010 Census. Additionally, be sure to check out our Facts for Features to learn about some of the major innovations in development for the 2020 Census that will control costs and improve efficiency.