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Census Year

1940 U.S. Census Overview

The 1940 U.S. Census form included new questions which provide deeper insights into the cultural and economic events redefining of your ancestor’s lives. The 1940 Census was particularly interested in understanding migration of Americans population by specifically noting people’s addresses in the 1935 and 1940 national census data.

In addition, census takers asked about involvement in FDR’s public works and education. The additional data recorded in the 1940 census records further helps trace specific individuals and better understand how the events of the 1930s that shaped your family tree and your ancestors' stories.

1940 Census Facts

  • Population: 131,669,275 - a 7.2% increase from the 1930 Census
  • Census Date: April 1940
  • Census Date Released: April 2012
  • Number of States Participating: 48 (Alaska & Hawaii not yet U.S. states)
  • US Territories Participating: Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, and the American Virgin Islands.
  • Data Lost: None

1940 Census Questions Asked

  • Names - of each person living in the house as of April 1, 1940.
  • Location
  • Household Data - Number of people and if the house is rented, owned or a farm.
  • Relation - of the responder to the head of the household
  • Personal Description - Sex, race, age at last birthday, marital status
  • Education
  • Place of Birth - noted both US & foreign locations - Distinguished Canada-French vs. Canada-English and Irish Free State (Eire) vs. Northern Ireland.
  • Citizenship - Citizenship (if not US)
  • Residence, April 1, 1935
  • Employment Status
  • Occupation, Industry, & Class of Worker
  • Income in 1939
Supplemental Questions:
  • Place of Birth of Father & Mother
  • Mother Tongue (or Native Language)
  • Veterans & War/Military Service
  • Social Security
  • Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker:
  • Married Women

By the time of the 1940 Census was conducted, the U.S. was finally out of the Great Depression, however, the world was on the brink of World War II. The events during 1930-1940 had a significant impact on the daily lives of our ancestors. Learn how their lives changed between 1930 to 1940 and how these events shaped your family history.

Combine the 1940 census information and our vast collection of U.S. newspaper articles to learn more about your ancestors. Start by searching a name and uncover interesting information and facts about your family history today!

Notable Events Between 1930-1940:

Political Events - The Great Depression
  • After the Stock Market crash of 1929, the U.S. plummeted into the Great Depression and remained so for 10 years, from 1929-1939.
  • The first African American federal judge, William Henry Hastie, is appointed in 1937.
  • On November 8, 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President. His policies brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression.
Sports & Pop-Culture
  • In 1931, the Empire State Building opens for business
  • The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937.
  • Babe Ruth retired in 1935 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939
  • New York World’s Fair and the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition took place in 1939, signaling the end of the Great Depression and the belief in an optimistic future.

Note on the National Archives and Records Administration

Although the National Archives and Records Administration digitalizes the census records and census population estimates with their partners, their historical records are not readily available on the government census website. Genealogybank's vast library of newspaper archives and census records provides an easy way for those interested in their own genealogy to find their ancestors.