Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My First Peek at the 1940 Census

I've experienced several census releases over the years.  I started my genealogy research in the 1970s, so I remember the release of the 1920 and the 1930 censuses (I was In college when the 1910 census was released and it was not a priority for me at that time!).   The 1920 census was fun but by the time the 1930 census was released I was using the internet and Ancestry, which was even more fun.  This time around, the fun is more immediate since the images were available on the same day as the release.  Even though the images eventually ended up on line in 2002, there was no way to Tweet or post on Facebook.  I read hundreds of Tweets yesterday about discoveries being made within hours of the 1940 census release online.

For most of the day of 2 April 2012 I was unable to find my ancestors on line in the 1940 census.  The NARA website was giving me error messages, or I was too impatient to wait for the images to load (especially after waiting for 40 minutes at a time!).  I stared at the message “Processing Image” for hours.  At Ancestry.com only certain states were online, including Maine and Rhode Island.  After trying and trying at NARA to look at my parents and grandparents in Beverly and Hamilton, Massachusetts, I decided to look at Maine to find some distant cousins.

Bingo!  The first town I looked at was South Berwick, Maine, where my Wilkinson ancestors lived in the 1700s and 1800s.  I knew there were still some Wilkinsons there in the 1920 and 1930 censuses.  I found two Wilkinson households in the 1940 census, and had the great luck of finding one cousin was listed on line #29.  This is genealogical gold!  On each page of the census, two people were chosen to answer an additional set of questions.  Hopefully I will find more of these lucky ancestors as I go along exploring the 1940 census.

And thank goodness I complained on Facebook that I couldn’t get into the Massachusetts images.  Fellow genealogist Michael Maglio read my complaint and sent me the entire set of images (all 36 pages) for the Massachusetts Enumeration District 5-45, which includes Dearborn Avenue in Beverly.  This is the address where my Dad grew up, and this 1940 Census image would be the first time I saw Dad in a Census since he was only 6 years old.  Not only that, but four generations of my family lived at 7 Dearborn Avenue, including me in the 1960s! 
click to enlarge
This image from Beverly, MA ED 5-45 includes 7 Dearborn Avenue

Massachusetts. Essex County. 1940 US census, population schedule. Digital images, Archives.govhttp://1940census.archives.gov: 2012.

Lucky me again!  The very first image had Dearborn Avenue penciled in on the margin, and I had to only scroll to page 3 to find house number 7.  But wait…. Look at this… the head of the household was listed as “Munroe, Donald”.   If I had waited to find my grandfather in the 1940 Census after indexing, I would never have found him because his name is “Donald Munroe Wilkinson”.  For some reason, the enumerator dropped the surname WILKINSON and gave his middle name as the surname.  It’s a good thing I browsed the pages instead of relying on an index!

There were no surprises under the family entry.  It listed my grandparents, my Dad and his brothers.  Papa listed his occupation as “shipping inspector” at “Shoe Machinery” which is the United Shoe Machinery Corporation only a few blocks away.  He could walk to work, and so did my great grandfather, and my Dad who all worked there at some point in their lives.  Even my grandmother worked there as a “Rosie the Riveter” a few years after this 1940 census was taken.
1947 at 7 Dearborn Avenue
and I was lucky enough here to have
this photo labeled with names! 

What was fun to me was to read all the neighbors who lived on Dearborn Avenue in 1940.  Some were still there when I lived there in the 1960s.  My Dad and all his brothers had dear boyhood friends listed on Dearborn Avenue and in the surrounding streets.  Dick Woodbury “Woody” lived right around the corner on 6 Story Avenue, and my uncle still visits him.  Charlie Bucci, age 9, lived at 10 Dearborn Avenue with his parents born in Italy.  The Pooles lived at numbers 17 and 22, and Billy Poole “Poolie”, aged 6, grew up and sent me some photos of the neighborhood sandlot baseball team.   There were lots of memories here!

Thanks, Michael Maglio!  You can read Michael’s blog “Origin Hunters” at this link: http://originhunters.blogspot.com/

A blog post I wrote about Bill Poole’s photo of the Dearborn Avenue baseball team at Avery Field in Beverly http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/11/neighborhood-baseball-1949.html

Another blog post about the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, where many members of my family worked, located within walking distance of 7 Dearborn Avenue in Beverly, Massachusetts http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/04/working-at-shoe-in-beverly.html

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Great job! I got lucky in my search today. It was fun and exciting to see my younger great-aunts and great-uncles, who were born after 1930, enumerated in 1940. :)