1940 Census Records
The National Archives released the 1940 census to the public on April 2, 2012 after a mandatory 72-year waiting period. This website, designed and hosted by Archives.com, provides access to digital images of the census – more than 3.8 million pages.
The 1940 census was taken in April 1940 (official date was April 1, though entries were recorded throughout early April). The Federal government requires a census to be taken once every ten years for the apportionment of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The first census was taken in 1790. Over the years, the format of census schedules changed and more questions were asked.
Census records are the only records that describe the entire population of the United States on a particular day. The 1940 census is no different. The answers given to the census takers tell us, in detail, what the United States looked like on April 1, 1940, and what issues were most relevant to Americans after a decade of economic depression.
The 1940 census reflects economic tumult of the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal recovery program of the 1930s. Between 1930 and 1940, the population of the Continental United States increased 7.2% to 131,669,275. The territories of Alaska, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, and the American Virgin Islands comprised 2,477,023 people.
Besides name, age, relationship, and occupation, the 1940 census included questions about internal migration; employment status; participation in the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and National Youth Administration (NYA) programs; and years of education.