Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The 1940's Census -- It's Personal!

          Like many genealogical enthusiasts, I was eagerly anticipating the release of the 1940 US Census.  It felt as if I had waited the 72 years for this census, when that is really not possible.  I think my overwhelming desire to see this census was due to the fact that this would be the 1st census that included my parent’s names and information.  My father was born in 1929 but since they were re-locating to California from Illinois around that time, I have not been able to find him in it.  On the other hand, my mother was born in 1933 so obviously 1940 would be her 1st census.  I decided that my mom and dad should be the first two people that I would look for in the 1940 census and how hard would that be?

          So, I watched one of the videos describing the procedure to use when researching with the 1940 census.  Okay, maybe I turned the video off after 15 minutes but I did get the gist of it!  Now, I am definitely used to utilizing the index when looking at a census, but I think I can do this.  The first thing you needed to know was their location.  I know my Mom’s exact address since it was the same address where my grandmother lived (almost to the time of her death).  I have it permanently etched in my brain.  6830 Cedros.  See, I do have it permanently etched!  So, now I need to try and find the enumeration district.  My grandmother lived in Milwaukee in the 1930 census so no chance of having the same enumeration district here in California.  But, I have the address!  I even know what side of Van Nuys Blvd. it is located and the streets that surround it.  That should help a lot, right?
         I did find Cedros but not that address number.  Okay, back to the recesses of my memory – she did live on another street but she must not have moved to Cedros until high school.  Now, what was the name of that other street --  Vose, Kester, or Tyrone?   A few hours later and several enumerations districts later, it turned out to be Tyrone Street.  I promptly basked in the glory of finding her for about 2 minutes and then jotted down all the information I could find on her family.  So, now do I dare risk the wrath of the “census” gods and search for my Dad, who I don’t have an exact address, although I know the name of the street and the city.  Do I have the stamina to pursue this today?

        Of course, I have been waiting so long, might as well, try.  Plus, this one might be easier, right?  Hey, we can all wish, can’t we?  So, I tried to find the enumeration district for Hollywood and for Beachwood Drive in particular.  You know what the problem is with Hollywood and Van Nuys?  They are a part of Los Angeles City and that city is way too large.  After several enumeration districts in Hollywood and several hours, I found the “Wellington’s” -- neighbors of my dad on Beachwood Drive.  Don’t they always tell you to find the neighbors and you’ll find your family?  Well, I found the neighbors but where is my family?  I did notice that only the even numbers addresses were found in this district for this particular street. 

          Not one to give up easily, I searched 2 other enumeration districts and finally, lo and behold the last family listed on their street was my dad’s and grandparent’s information.   Not only were they listed but my grandfather was asked to give supplemental information.  I have hit the “census” jackpot!!  Now, I am sure that there are probably easier methods to finding my families than the ones I utilized (it is usually that way) but I am very happy that I found them.  I think, however, I may just wait for the indices before doing any more research – that is of course, unless my inquisitive nature gets the best of me again!

          The above photo is my dad (the youngest one) with his two brothers and parents at their house in Hollywood.  The best I can tell the photo was probably taken in 1942 or thereabouts.  How fun would it be if they had taken a photo of each family for each census?  Now, I would have loved that!!

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