In only 35 days genealogy geeks everywhere will rejoice in the release of the 1940 Census. It will be the first Federal Census in which my parents make an appearance. When I came up with 12 Genealogy Goals for 2012, goal #3 was to “Find all my relatives in the 1940 census.” But just how many relatives is that? Until I started gathering notes, I didn’t realize just how much my great-grandparents’ families grew from the time of their immigration between 1900 and 1909 to 1940. Here is a chart that outlines the, er, relative growth of the families:
The additions in the great-grandparent generation or above were immigrations, and decreases were due to deaths. The additions for the grandparents and below were births. I’m counting my paternal grandmother in the above counts because she was alive, but I’ve yet to actually find her on any census ever. And I’m not double counting the several relatives that were counted more than once in prior censuses! The spouse category includes all spouses of any generation that are not directly related to me. So, it appears I only have to find 108 relatives.
The good news is, this is roughly about 32 households. Of those 32 households, 27 live in the city of Philadelphia which had a 1940 population of “only” 1.93 million. It appears I have my work cut out for me!
What am I doing to prepare for the research? Well, other than mapping out the list of individuals that should be alive, I’m trying to determine their 1940 addresses. Mostly I’m relying on the 1930 addresses, but in some cases I’m using other available documents like death or marriage records if the events took place closer to 1940. I even have my grandfather’s driver’s license from 1940, so I am confident I can find my father at that address with his parents.
After compiling a list of the possible addresses and/or what the 1930 ED (enumeration district) was if I’m using that address, I then head to Steve Morse’s Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. Unfortunately, for a city as large as Philadelphia the result usually yields two or more possible ED numbers based on either the 1930 ED or an actual street address. To narrow it down even further, I am literally mapping out the address and relying on Steve’s links to the descriptions or maps of the EDs.
While this whole exercise would bore most of my non-genealogy friends to tears, the research has been fun. Well, not as much fun as converting surnames to Soundex codes back in the day and scrolling through microfilm, but fun. While an index will certainly make research easier, I’m still confident that the ease of using free digitized images will make finding all 108 relatives relatively easy. And I’m sure I’ll find some surprises once I find these families!