The 1940 Census
Who Lived in Your House in 1940?
If your house existed, you may be able to find out a lot about its occupants from the raw 1940 census dated released in April 2012.
Most of the 55 handwritten sheets below have addresses from multiple streets. After the link to each of the census sheets there is a list of the streets with addresses on that sheet. The street names are on the left edge of each sheet and are written at a right angle to the rest of the data. The house numbers are just to the right of the street names. The individual files are in the .pdf format and can be expanded beyond 100% to make viewing the data easier.
The Census Time Machine
By Bruce Carroll
Early this spring the Census Bureau put online the census takers handwritten data from the 1940 census. It will be a while before it's all digitized so one can search by name, but if you are of a certain age, and know where you lived in the spring of 1940 you may be able to find your name. Even if you weren't around yet, perhaps your house was.
Most of the Franklin Hills was in census Enumeration District 1952 A&B. While my house at Franklin and Mayview wasn't around until a decade later, the house across the street at 2155 Mayview did turn up as a surprising listing. Back in the early 1970s I often chatted with its then owner, nonagenarian Rexie Bennett, a retired LA High School teacher who told me she and her sister had built the house in 1939. But the census listing on page 20B has Roy Sumner, his wife Ada and their 23 year old daughter Kathryn as the only residents.
There is detailed info about them all. Roy and Ada had 4 years of high school the daughter had 2 years of college, but did not attend any school in 1940. In 1935 they all lived in San Diego and while Ada was from Kansas, father and daughter were native Californians and both worked 40 hours during the last week of March 1940. Roy was foreman for an oil company and Kathryn was an artist/cartoonist. She made $1,400 in 1939, while her dad earned $2,400, each worked 52 weeks and no one in the house received more than $50 in income from other than wages.
In all there were over 30 questions including the value of the home. Summers said 2155 Mayview was worth $7,500 the highest on the page. (I bought it and the empty lot next door for $70,000 in 1976 and sold the house in 1980 for $170,000) Renters were asked how much rent they paid. 3834 Franklin was a bargain at only $15 per month, 3804's tenant paid $65 each month. Only about 10% of the houses appeared to have been rentals.
Unfortunately it's hard to find just which page your house may be on because census takers had to go back to houses where no one was homes so the order is often seemingly random. The list above shows which streets are mentioned on which pages to help you start the search.