SNGF: The 1940 Census

SNGF: The 1940 Census

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge at Genea-Musings is all about the 1940 census, what we plan to find, and our expectations.

As it will not have an index at first, I suspect that I will be slogged down in four places:  Kilauea (Kauai Co., HI), Oakland (Alameda Co., CA), Spreckels (Monterey Co., CA), and San Francisco (San Francisco Co., CA).  I am fortunate in that Kilauea and Spreckels are small communities.  Once I find the right spot in the census, I should be able to go page by page and find the families I need.  Oakland will be a little more difficult.  I know the street where most of my relatives lived, but locating the right enumeration district in such a large city will be a pain.  San Francisco will be a pain in the butt without an index. My relatives were scattered throughout the city so I will probably have to wait for an index before I can attempt that part of the family.

I have a couple of goals for the census.  These are who I want to locate first…

My Great Grandfather, Harry Jackson, in Oakland.  I’m not sure what street he lived on at the time.  I never did find him in the 1930 census as my Great Grandparents were divorced and he may have been in jail for a little case of arson (he tried to burn down the house where the rest of the family lived

My Great Grandmother, Margaret (Jones) Jackson.  I am not sure where I will find her.  After the divorce from Harry, she was either in Oakland or San Francisco.  I know where she was in 1930, but I’d like to find out what happened to her by 1940.

My Great Aunt, Margaret (Jackson) Fafri.  I was not able to find Margaret in the 1930 census, so I am hoping to have better luck in 1940.  She was married 2 or 3 times before marrying her last husband, Alfred Fafri.  Details of her life are sketchy.  I suspect I will find in her in San Francisco.

My Great Uncle John Jackson.  John was the black sheep of the family.  My Grandma conveniently killed him off after the 1906 earthquake and fire.  She only admitted that the story was false when I found him alive and well in the 1920 census.  I believe I found him in the 1930 census.  I know very little about him.  I know he was married to someone named Mary, had a couple of kids, and then divorced.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he was still married in 1940.

Those are the mysteries that I’d like to solve in the 1940 census.  There are scores of relatives I want to find.  For the most part, they are well documented with city directories, obituaries, vital statistics, and other sources.  I would like to find them in the 1940 census to firm up family stories and to make sure that information on their descendants is correct.

I also hope that the 1940 census will shed light on how the Depression affected my relatives.  I know that in the 1930s some marriages dissolves, some spouses left without a trace, people struggled, moved from job to job, and some got mixed up in alcohol and drugs.  Some survived, made stronger by the challenges of that period.  I want to see where everyone was in 1940, if they still owned their homes, and kept their jobs.  If they owned businesses prior to 1940, I’d like to see if their businesses survived.  I’ll be especially interested to see if my Dad’s relatives who owned French laundries in Oakland and San Francisco were able to hold onto them during the Depression.  It would seem getting your goods professionally laundered would not be a necessity when money was short.

In addition to this, I’ll be curious about the migrations.  The sugar industry jobs were going out of favor in Kauai.  Which couples had already moved to Oahu or California?  For the California folks, who moved from Oakland to Monterrey County for field labor jobs?  And, who moved from Monterrey County to Oakland and San Francisco to get the new jobs becoming available in the port and the growing cities.

So, like all censuses, I’ll start out with my main goal.  In the end, I’ll have information on a couple of hundred couples related to both sides of my tree.  I can’t wait!  It’s going to be fun!

[My apologies for posting this so late.  I wrote it on Saturday.  My web browser crashed.  At first I couldn’t recover the post.  Then it mysteriously came back to life tonight.  Don’t you love glitches?]

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2 thoughts on “SNGF: The 1940 Census

  1. You won’t have to slog through a non-name indexed 1940 census if you know the location or address or street of your targets.

    Check out the work that I and Steve Morse have done at There in the census folder you will find: 1. ED definitions for all areas under 50,000 in 1940, fully searchable for key words; 2. street indexes to ED numbers for all cities over 25,000 and many below that mark for 1940, and the list is expanding; 3. ED conversion tables from 1930 EDs to 1940 EDs for those who haven’t moved in that decade.

    So locational searches, contrary to what is being posted on the internet, will NOT require a page by page look through a large city, but will be much more efficient due to the tools we have produced.

    Joel Weintraub
    Dana Point, CA

  2. Joel, thanks for your comment. I am going to check out what you and Steve have put together. You guys always do great work!

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