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1940 Census Records Online

Censuses offer a window into the pasts of your ancestors. The practice of taking a census on a nationwide basis dates back to 1790. With some exceptions, this information has been well-preserved.

GenealogyBank provides 1940 census records online in digital form, enabling you to unveil your family’s history.

Jump into your family history and search the 1940 census with just a few clicks. If you’re ready to construct your family tree, the 1940 census database has the information you need.


1940 Census Records Online

Federal censuses have been taken since 1790. The most recent publicly available census is 1940. A long history of census records means that the family researcher has a wealth of information to work from.

For acquiring basic information about your family and where they lived, the 1940 Federal census is an excellent place to start.

So, what can you find from a census?

  • Names – Look up the names of your ancestors and who they were married to. This can help to trace your ancestors as they move across the country, as well as uncovering ancestors you never knew about.
  • Birthplaces – Is your family on the move? United States census records 1940 provide information on birthplaces and may even offer insights into where a person’s parents were born.
  • Relatives – The 1940 US census includes information on everyone who resided within a household. Relatives like grandparents, cousins, and even adopted children may appear on a census.
  • Immigration – Find out more about your heritage with the1940 census searchable database. These documents shed light on your ancestors’ immigration and naturalization history.
  • Neighborhood Makeup – The United States census 1940 can help to build up a picture of where your ancestors lived and the type of neighborhood it was.

To create a picture of your family tree and uncover a launchpad for further research, perform a GenealogyBank 1940 census search now.

How to Search the United States Census 1940

Begin your search for an ancestor within the annals of the 1940 US census. With the help of GenealogyBank, you can traverse centuries of US history within a matter of seconds. The first step is to choose an ancestor to search for. With GenealogyBank, all you need to do is enter your ancestor’s first and last names. You’ll instantly see census results for your specific census.

However, for a successful 1940 census search you need to narrow down your results. Follow these steps to get more accurate results.

Step One – Enter the full name of your ancestor, including any middle names or initials they might have.

Step Two – Include some keywords, such as the location your ancestor lived in. For earlier censuses, you can add the state in which they lived, but the more information you have, the better.

Step Three – Exclude certain keywords if you know specific pieces of information don’t apply to your ancestor.

Step Four – Change the search order of your census results. GenealogyBank allows you to filter your results. This is especially important if you have less information on your ancestor, or they had a common last name.


Tips for a Successful 1940 Census Search

There is an art to extracting the most information from 1940 census records online. Census records vary in their accuracy. As a result, when you search the 1940 Federal census, implement these tips for a successful search.

Here are some advanced tips for a 1940 census search by name:

  • Search individually for each ancestor. Census records may differ between people even in the same household. This could yield additional important information.
  • Search for common misspellings or even common nicknames. Old censuses often lacked accuracy, particularly if your ancestors were illiterate.
  • Look up entries for the neighbors of your ancestors. It can shed light on the migratory heritage of your family.

Finally, make sure you use any census records you find as a platform for further research.

The Value of Our 1940 Census Database

Our census database has been fully digitized with the original records direct from the United States Census Bureau.

You have access to millions of census records at your fingertips. There’s no easier way to build your family tree and construct the history of this great nation and the role your ancestors played in it.

GenealogyBank records cover more than 330 years of US history. In a world where official records were few and people slipped into the mists of time, censuses are the one constant. Since 1790, a census has been taken every ten years. With some notable exceptions, the vast majority of records have survived up until the present day. Go back to the beginning of the American Experiment. Using the US census records should be your initial starting point for family research. They contain valuable information that can help you complete your genealogy project.

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.

About the 1940 US federal census

The 1940 census was taken in April 1940 (the official date was April 1, though entries were recorded throughout early April). The National Archives released the 1940 census to the public on April 2, 2012 after a mandatory 72-year waiting period. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President during the 1940 census. Forty eight states participated in this census, along with territories.

The Census Bureau, interested in internal migration, asked everyone where they lived on April 1, 1935. The US census of 1940 also asked if people were living at the same address in 1940 as they had been on April 1, 1935. There were 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) and whether the person received income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary.

The 1940 US census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24 to 30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the National Youth Administration (NYA), the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), or state or local work relief agencies. 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 the 1940 federal census. Veterans were asked if they served in the World War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Boxer Rebellion, and if so, 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.

What can we learn from a 1940 census search?

Census records are the only records that describe the entire population of the United States on a particular day. The 1940 census is no different. The answers explain in detail what the United States looked like on April 1, 1940, and what issues were most relevant to Americans after a decade of economic depression.

The US census records for 1940 reflect the economic tumult of the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal recovery program of the 1930s. Besides name, age, relationship, and occupation, the 1940 census included questions about internal migration; employment status; participation in the CCC, WPA, and NYA programs; and years of education.

Some questions asked in earlier years were moved to the supplemental census. Unlike more recent censuses, the census of 1940 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. 1940 census search by name shows there were separate pages for people living in a hotel tourist home, or trailer camp. These people were to be counted on April 8th and 9th.

The 1940 United States federal census included territorial censuses for Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, and the American Virgin Islands.

Why are census records important?

Census data are taken by governments to establish the numbers and characteristics of a population. Census records allow you to trace your ancestors through each generation of a family tree. You may be able to follow where a relative lived through each decade, or discover when they moved house or started a new job, and how their family evolved through births, deaths, and marriages. Also, your ancestors’ households will often reveal the names of their siblings, which would be difficult to trace using the birth indexes alone.

Data from the census informs a wide range of government, business, and non-profit decision-making. Governments and non-profit organizations rely on decennial census data to determine the need for new roads, hospitals, schools, and other public sector investments. US census records are also vital to businesses as a key source of information about the population’s changing needs. Plus, the census results also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to several different programs.

What can 1940 census records be used for?

During World War II, the Census Bureau responded to several information requests from US government agencies, including the US Army and the US Secret Service, to facilitate the internment of Japanese Americans. In his report of the operation, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt wrote that the most important single source of information prior to the evacuation was the 1940 census records of population.

Every ten years since 1790, the federal census has provided a snapshot of the American public. The census record for 1940 detailed that critical period in American history as the country was still recovering from the Great Depression and before its entry into World War II. These records will prove to be invaluable to genealogists, historians, demographers, and others for years to come.