Monday, April 23, 2012

1940 Census - Ride the Time Machine

Come on and take a free ride

The 1940 U.S. Census has a 10+ wow factor, and it is absolutely free.  Unlock the treasures of the greatest generation in your pajamas. With one click, climb aboard this legendary time machine and let the adventure begin! 

Uncle Sam asks you...

How about this vintage Census poster?  Evidently,  Uncle Sam was making an effort to reach out and touch the rural branches of his American family.  Can anyone tell me who the model was for this depiction?

Source: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Caption: The 1940 census was released online Monday April 2. Posters, like the one above from the mid-1940s, instructed Americans how to participate in the mandatory census. From College News

He looks familiar

Uncle Sam in the above image reminds me a little of Moses.  NO, not the REAL Moses.  The MOVIE character Moses, portrayed by famous actor Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.  Do you agree?

"Let My People Go", Charlton Heston as Moses from "The Ten Commandments" (1956) Classic Cinema Quotes

Movie stars and Presidents

While we're on the subject of actors, guess who else you can find in the 1940 U.S. Census? None other than famous movie star and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.  Here he is in 1940 with his first wife, Jane Wyman.  What a sweet wedding photo.

Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman wedding photo, January 26, 1940.  Getty Images, Real Simple

Here are the stellar newlyweds at their California home on this 1940 U.S. Census record, as reported by ABC News:

An image of a page from the 1940 U.S. census shows the names of Ronald Reagan and then wife Jane Wyman Reagan on lines 33 and 34. (United States Census Bureau) ABC News

The Census Taker

While it is fun to search out movie stars, politicians, and other famous folk on the 1940 U.S. Census, it is even more rewarding to travel back in time to find people you know.   Many Americans that were part of that census are still living today.  Perhaps that's why we as a nation feel such a strong connection to this particular census release.

The Census Taker, Norman Rockwell, 1940, from Nutfield Genealogy

Although a lot of us were born after 1940, most Americans have family listed in the records.  Who will you find?  If you're a baby boomer like me, you'll probably find your parents listed there.  If you're younger, you'll discover grandparents and great-grandparents.  How about those vintage trailers?

A 1940 census worker counts a family
A 1940 census worker counts a family, US Census Bureau photostream, Flickr

What's your connection?

Here is a photo from an earlier post of my own Mom and her Mom, my Nanny.  This was taken in 1939, just one year before the census.

Nan and Mom "Love to Daddy" November 1939 by Gentry Hall, Wichita Falls, TX

I am proud to say that HUBBY's father was a tail gunner in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.  Here is a photo of him with his combat crew and their B24 Bomber, the HE Cordell.  He was a modest man of great courage, bravely risking his life during each of his 33 combat missions.

Howard Henderson, far right, front row, with HE Cordell combat crew, USAF, WWII

Who do you know?

Who do you know that was in the 1940 U.S. Census?  What will you find?  Discover your own adventure.  Get started here:


  1. This is really exciting for anyone trying to trace their family tree. My parents already had one child in 1940.

  2. So your parents and firstborn sibling will be on that census. I think it gives us a little snippet about their lives back then, too. Good luck!

  3. Thank you for the mention of my dad and the other crew members that served with him during WWII. I think there is a lot interesting info here.


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