Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fun with Family History: 1940 Census

Perhaps you recall this post about finding my grandpa and grandma on the 1940 census.  Well, this week I found my other set of grandparents!  Before I explain about how I found them, let me show you the pages that show my first discoveries.  (I've left the names out the photos, since one grandma is still living.)


Oh, boy, that is impossibly small for you to read!  Let me walk you through the information I gleaned from the record.  First of all, to the left of where the names are on the census (and not in the photo), written in the margin, I learned that Grandpa lived right next door to the post office.  That was interesting because he met Grandma when she started working for the postmistress.  From the information in the photo, I see that Grandpa was a hired hand in the household he was living in.  Sex: male, color: white, age: 21, marital status: single.  He did not attend school within the past year, and the highest level of education he attained was 8th grade.  (I think that was more an indication of what was common at that time and area than in his natural abilities or inclinations.  He valued education and constantly read.  I remember seeing many books about natural wonders and history in his home.)

He was born in Kansas, and lived on a farm in rural Kansas on Jan. 1, 1935.  He worked 60 hours the week of March 24-30, 1940.  He worked 52 weeks as a farmhand in the previous year.  He did not receive income other than salary.



What about Grandma?  Well, her mom had remarried after Grandma's dad died in a mining accident, so we see step-dad on the census as the head of household.  As for Grandma:  sex:female, color: white, age: 16, marital status: single.  She had not attended school in the past year, and the census lists that the highest level of education she completed was the 3rd year of high school.  (Grandma did not finish high school due to sustaining a bad skull fracture after falling off a horse.  However, Grandma has said that accident occurred the summer before her junior year, not the summer after. I'm apt to believe Grandma over the census record.)

She was born in Oregon, and lived on a farm in rural Deschutes county, Oregon on Jan. 1, 1935.  She was not currently working, nor was she working the previous year.  Her occupation was housekeeper at home. 

I had found Grandpa and Grandma basically by trial and error.  The town was small and there weren't that many records to browse.  However, the other set of grandparents lived in a larger area.  I didn't want to wade through record after record to try to locate them. 

I went to www.ancestry.com and found the voter registrations from 1940 for my grandparents.  The voter registration listed their address.  Stevemorse.org, in combination with www.mapquest.com, came to my rescue.  I was able to look up my grandparents' address on mapquest and note the surrounding streets.  Then on the Stevemorse site, I was able to look up the descriptions of the various enumeration districts.  Once I found an enumeration district that matched the location of my grandparents' address, I started browsing the record. 


Hurray!  I found them!  Here's what the census said:

Grandpa:  Head of household, male, white, 27-years-old, married.  He didn't attend school in the past year.  He was a high school graduate.  He was born in California, and lived in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 1, 1935.  He worked 60 hours the week of Mar. 24-30, 1940.  He rented a farm, working 52 weeks in the previous year, drawing no salary, but did earn money other than salary or wages.

Grandma:  Wife, female, white, 23-years-old, married.  She didn't attend school in the past year, but was a high school graduate.  She was born in Arkansas, and lived on a farm in rural Lake county, Oregon on Jan. 1, 1935.  She worked 48 hours the week of Mar. 24-30, 1940.  She was a stenographer in the motor vehicles industry, working 52 weeks the previous year, and earning $1200. 

Work ethic struck me as I read through the census entries, both on a personal, "I-know-these-people," level, and on a larger, "look-at-society," level.  Each of my grandparents was/is a hard-working individual.  Though I knew that already, the information from the census only supports that knowledge.  Both grandpas worked 60-hour work-weeks, and one grandma worked a 48-hour week. The one grandmother that wasn't working at the time of the census is an understandable exception, due to her young age and the fact she had been recovering from a head injury.  She did, however, start working for the postmistress a month after the census was taken.

Among the women on the page, only one profession paid better than stenographer.  And that profession, though held exclusively by women on that particular census page, paid a wage that competed with the wages of the men.  That profession was "teacher."  Due to the current length of this post, I'll refrain from elaborating on societal changes regarding the value of public education, but it would be a fascinating study. 

What have you learned about your family from the 1940 census? 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for the hard-working men and women of the past!

1 comment:

  1. I really need to start doing genealogy work! It is so interesting!

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