Friday, March 30, 2012

The 1940 Census

Walt Stewart Family about 1940
The 1940 Census will be released in 2 days and 12 hours.  It will be exciting to “catch up” with my parents.  

In the previous census they were both 15 years old.  My mom lived in Kirkwood Precinct in Rock County, Nebraska with her parents and only brother.  My dad lived in Valentine, Cherry County, Nebraska with his parents and their family.  Mom and Dad did not know each other yet.   What a difference those ten years made in everyone’s lives including my parents!
My Mom in the 1930 Census
In the years between those two censuses  Mom and Dad graduated from school, began working, met each other, fell in love and married, experienced the Dust Bowl years and fell on hard times, moved to Ogallala in Keith County, Nebraska, and had their first son.

Even though the 1940 Census will be available at no cost at, the National Archives website, we won’t have it indexed for about six months.  (That’s a huge volunteer effort and I have signed up to help.)   But I won’t need the index next Monday.  If I can manage to get on the website, I’ll know where to find my family.  It will take a little time to leaf through the digitized pages listing the town’s residents.   I think my parents may have been renting the house where my music teacher lived when I was in high school.   In my youth I’d heard stories about how various relatives came to town to find work and my parents gave them a roof over their heads.  The census will tell me if they and the others living with them were employed and where they lived 5 years before.    

I have always felt that researching the census was like walking up and knocking on someone’s door.   You walk in and get to see what their lives were like.  This will be fun!

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