Frequently Asked Questions
Click a category below to reveal frequently asked questions. You can click on a question to jump to its answer or scroll down to browse. If your question isn't answered here, you can contact us.
What is the 1940 census?
The 1940 census was taken in April 1940 (official date April 1, though entries were recorded throughout early April). The Federal government requires a census to be taken once every ten years for the apportionment of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The first census was taken in 1790. Over the years, more questions have been added to the census. The 1940 census asked numerous questions, including place of birth, occupation, military service, residence in 1935, and many others.
What questions were asked in the 1940 census?
See the list of questions on the 1940 census
How many people were living in the United States in 1940?
There were 131,669,275 people living in the continental United States and 2,477,023 people living in territories Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Panama Canal Zone and the American Virgin Islands.
Who gave the information listed in the 1940 census?
Enumerators were instructed to obtain the information from "a responsible, adult member of the household" (Instructions to Enumerators, paragraph 29). The person who gave the information is indicated by having an x with a circle around it after the name. If someone outside the household gave the information, the enumerator was instructed to list that person's name in the left-hand margin.
Why wasn't the 1940 census released before April 2, 2012?
Federal censuses are not available for public use because of a statutory 72-year restriction on access for privacy reasons. (92 Stat. 915; Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978).
What do the various codes mean?
One common code is the x with a circle around it, which appears after some names. This indicates who gave the information to the census taker. There are other codes for race, military service, citizenship, and class of worker. See the list of codes on the 1940 census.
What are supplemental questions?
The supplemental questions were asked of the people listed on two lines on each page of the census schedules (about a five percent sample of the census). See the list of supplemental questions.
What does the census tell me about Social Security?
No Social Security numbers are found in the 1940 census. In the supplemental schedule, the 1940 census included three questions about social security.
Column 42 asked "Does this person have a Federal Social Security number? Answer "yes" or "no" for every person 14 years of age or older."
Column 43 asked: "Were deductions for Federal old-age insurance or railroad retirement made from this person's wages or salary in 1939? Answer "yes" or "no" for every person 14 years of age or older."
Deductions for Federal old-age insurance were made from money wages or salaries (up to $3,000) received in all kinds of private (non-government) employment except agriculture, railroads, charitable and other nonprofit organizations, employment as sailors and in domestic service at the home of the employer. (Instructions, p.78)
Column 44 asked: "If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, and (3) part, but less than half, of wages, or salary?"
I found someone who is listed as assigned to emergency public work for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), WPA (Works Project/Progress Administration), or NYA (National Youth Administration). Where can I find more information about this person's work?
We may have additional records at the National Archives. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What if no one was home when the census taker came to a residence?
The census taker would make a return visit. People who were counted on return visits are listed beginning on page 61A.
Where may I find a blank copy of the 1940 census population schedule form?
View a PDF of the 1940 schedule form.
How do I begin exploring the 1940 census?
To view census images you can search by location or enumeration district number (if you already know it). Begin your search by clicking the Census Search tab. Visit Getting Started and Census Research 101 if it's your first time using this website.
How do I use the image viewer?
The image viewer on this website has been recently updated. Instead of using scroll bars, you can now grab the image with your cursor to move up and down. You can also now enter a page number at the top right of the image viewer to jump directly to that page. If you have trouble viewing images on this website, first try refreshing the page. To do this, click the "refresh" button on your browser. If this doesn't work, try viewing the same image in a different browser. There may be some incompatibilities with certain browsers that we hope to resolve in the future.
How would I find someone who lived in a hotel, tourist home, trailer camps, or one-night lodging house?
People living in those places, except hotels, were counted on April 8th and people living in hotels were counted on April 9th. Their census information can be found starting on page 81A.
Why isn't the 1940 census searchable by name?
The 1940 census has not yet been indexed by name, so you must search the census by location or enumeration district. There are initiatives underway to make the 1940 census searchable by name, including a community volunteer project. If you'd like to help make the 1940 census name-index available for free you can sign-up as a volunteer at the1940census.com.
What if I don't know where the person I'm looking for lived?
It is necessary to have an idea of where the person you're looking for was living in 1940. If you don't have this information on hand, one option is to search 1930 census records. These may provide insight into where the person lived in 1940 (if they didn't move out of the area). As an optional benefit, we've integrated the ability to search 1930 census records into this website (powered by Archives.com). To learn other suggestions for finding a 1940 residence location, or to search 1930 census records, click here. You may also wish to search for addresses in other records available at the National Archives such as naturalization petitions and World War II draft registration cards.
Why do the page numbers for some enumeration districts jump to page 61A or 81A?
Page 61 is the first page number used for people that were counted in return visits because no one was at home when the first visit happened.Page 81A is the first page used for people living in a hotel, tourist home, trailer camp, or one-night lodging house. Not every enumeration district has a page 61 or a page 81. You can tell that no pages were missed because the Census Bureau consecutively stamped all of the pages beginning with the first page of a county through to the end of the county.
Are there any system requirements to view images?
You must have Adobe Flash installed to zoom, pan, manipulate lightness/darkness, etc., of images on this website.
How do I share, bookmark, or download images?
Visit Census Research 101 to learn the share, bookmark, and download capabilities of this website.
How does the 1930 records search work?
Census records from 1930 can help you to locate a person's location in 1940. Start by searching for a name on the 1930 records search page. View the search results, and click the "See More" button when you locate the person you're looking for. From there you can click to view the corresponding 1940 enumeration district number, which will allow you to browse 1940 census images, or you may choose to view the 1930 census image on Archives.com for free (no credit card required). If you choose to view the 1930 image, a separate browser tab will open and you will be transported to the Archives.com website. Questions or comments about Archives.com should be directed to email@example.com.
How have the Steve Morse One-Step tools been integrated into this website?
Steve Morse, Joel Weintraub, and a group of volunteers created various tools to help people locate the correct enumeration district in the 1940 census. Their contributions allow users of this website to search by street to narrow enumeration district results, and convert a 1930 ED to a 1940 ED. Please note: street level data is not available for all cities (primary coverage is in large and medium size metropolitan areas). You can read more about these tools at http://stevemorse.org/census/intro.html. We are grateful to Steve Morse, Joel Weintraub, and the volunteers who made these enhancements possible. Questions or comments about the One-Step tools should be directed to http://stevemorse.org/.
How do I request a certified copy of a page in the 1940 census?
The National Archives will certify copies of pages in the 1940 census. Please visit the National Archives or send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost to receive a certified copy by mail will be $30.00 ($15.00 for the mail order and $15.00 for the certification). Please include the name of the person, the state, county, enumeration district number, and page number in your request.
Can I purchase a copy of the entire 1940 census or of a particular state?
Yes. The National Archives Trust Fund is selling copies of the entire 1940 census as well as copies of individual states in both digital and microfilm format. For more information please visit their web site at http://estore.archives.gov/Category/105_1/1940_Census.aspx. However, you can download digital images for an enumeration district on this website.
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