Patt Morrison

<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California. Hosted by

1940 census is available online today

by Patt Morrison

Approximately 120,000 enumerators were employed during 1940 - 1941.

As Americans in 2012 recover from ‘the great recession,’ they now have an opportunity to learn about their predecessors’ recovery from the Great Depression.

Today, the United States federal government made the 1940 census freely available to the public. Every ten years, a decennial census becomes public, once a legally required seventy-two-year waiting period has elapsed.

But this is the first time the information has been made immediately available online for public inspection, thanks to a coordinated effort by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The data is not yet searchable by name, but you can zero in on family members by city, county and street. The recorded data includes names, ages, marital status, and number of children. It also incorporates occupations and how much a sample of respondents earned.

Women were questioned about their marriage history, including their age when married and how many children they’d had. And it offers great examples of a lost art: readable cursive handwriting.


What can we learn about the people of pre-World War II America by browsing the 1940 census? What can it tell you about your own family history?


Megan Smolenyak, family history advisor for

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