Genealogy award-winning writer, professional researcher and experienced lecturer, Lisa McKinney, of Edgewood enlightened members of the Wood County Genealogical Society with background, hints, and tips about the 1940 census at the April society meeting.
The census gives us a look at conditions resulting from the Great Depression of the 20th Century by providing more data on American life ever collected before that time. One of the most useful features is the question of where the family was living in 1935 indicating migrations of the 1930s, the dark years of the world’s economy. Another unique feature was that of Hobo Night in which transients were censused in places like hotels, hospitals, etc.
Also unique was the fact that this is the first census which will be all digital and not searched on long rolls of microfilm.
The biggest downside is that the census was released without an index. Numerous online outlets are working to index the all the states and data, but estimates are that it could take at least until the end of the year 2012. In the meantime, people will have to search page by page to find their relatives unless they use finding aids such as those at stevemorse.org.
Once in the census, researchers are urged to look at all data which includes such items as street and house numbers, residence, and occupation. Sometimes margin notes also give additional information. Also, skip pages at the end of an enumeration district include those missed on the main walks up and own streets and the transient individuals.