By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’ve ever wanted to research your family history, a treasure-chest of information is now available when the 1940 census is made available online in just a few hours.
1940 was an amazing turning point in our country’s history, moving from the Great Depression into World War II.
Back then, Pennsylvania was the second-most-populous state, behind only New York. Now, it’s California and Texas. Philadelphia was the third largest city behind New York and Chicago.
But the 1940 census didn’t just count people, it also asked questions, many related to the depression. For example, whether the person filling out the form worked for public work relief programs, also how much they made in 1939, and what they did for a living.
Payne Brown from Mount Airy says he’s interested in taking a look, “Particularly my grandfather on my mother’s side, because I’ve heard stories about him, but I didn’t know him. So, it would be interesting just to see”
The 1940 census was the first to ask about income. The average salary for a man in 1940 was $956 a year.
Gary from West Chester says he’s well-versed on his family history, but will still take a look, “My mother’s side, my grandfather was in the trenches in the first World War, they were farmers. I’m sure $900 would have been a lot of money to them.”
It’ll be a couple months before you can search by name, but if you have an address, you can find what’s called an enumeration district and then browse through the records.
To start your search, go to the site: 1940Census.Archives.gov.