The 1940 Census

THE 1940 FEDERAL CENSUS was taken in April 1940 (official date was April 1, though entries were recorded throughout early April). Every 10 years since 1790, the federal census has provided a snapshot of the American public. The 1940 census recorded that critical period in American history as the country was still recovering from the Great Depression and before its entry into World War II. Over the years, the format of census schedules changed and more questions were asked.

Besides name, age, relationship, and occupation, the 1940 census included questions about internal migration; employment status; participation in the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and National Youth Administration (NYA) programs; and years of education.

Unlike previous censuses, the 1940 census was taken entirely by census enumerators going door to door and collecting information. If a person wasn’t home when the census taker came, the census taker would make a return visit. People who were counted on return visits were listed at the end of the regular pages for the enumeration district.

Employment status: The census asked 13 questions about the employment status of people 14 years old and older. Included were new questions about the “Amount of money, wages, or salary received (including commissions)” (column 32) and “Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary (Y or N)” (column 33).

New Deal programs: The census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief. The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education. The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests.

Supplement schedules: At the bottom of each schedule, a supplementary census asked additional questions of two people enumerated on preselected lines on the form. The question of the parents’ birthplace was moved to the supplemental schedule, in columns 36–37. Veterans (columns 39–41) were asked if they served in the World War, Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, or Boxer Rebellion and if in a Regular Establishment (Army, Navy, or Marine Corps), peacetime service only, or another war or expedition. The supplemental schedule also asked about participation in two national insurance plans—Social Security and Railroad Retirement (columns 42–44).

Hampton Road

Hollywood Avenue

Montreal Avenue

Oak Cliff Boulevard