I was lucky in the wee hours of the morning since I happened to be online when Ancestry.com began uploading the images and the District of Columbia was one of the first areas to go online. I was lucky because I knew where my husband’s Alberdings lived in 1940 and they had not relocated since the 1930 Census was taken. I was lucky because I could find the enumeration district that corresponded to the district in the 1930 Census, thanks to Stephen P. Morse, PhD and Joel D. Weintraub, PhD. Using their Unified 1940 Census ED Finder made that simple. A big thanks to these men and the work they did to make the wonderful tool available.
I found my husband’s Alberding grandparents, with his mother, Ellen, still living at home. Next door, I found his Reid grandparents, with his father, Andrew, still living at home. Andrew Reid married the girl next door, Ellen Alberding, two months after the 1940 Census was taken, on 8 Jun 1940.
The Reid family home was full of people – nine in all – Grandfather Ernest Reid, Grandmother Clara, father Andrew, his brother, William (along with William’s wife and five children). The only wage earners in 1939 to support that large household were Andrew and William and neither earned a lot, so I can imagine things were pretty hard for them.
For grandfather Conrad Alberding, I find a slightly different story. Conrad is manager of the National Press Club, earned a nice salary in 1939. My husband’s mother, Ellen, had a good job too and contributed nicely to the family’s income. One of her brother’s was also a healthy wage earner. Additionally, the Alberdings had a married couple lodging with them. As they were not family, it can presumed they paid rent for their rooms. The Alberdings were much more comfortable financially than were the Reids.
Yes, I am very excited about all that can be learned from examining these census pages. It isn’t going to be easy at first. There is not yet an index, you must know where to look for those you are interested in finding. The servers are over loaded today, making it difficult to see the records even you have done your homework and know where to look. Luck helps a lot too. We will have to be patient as this will all settle down. If you are very patient, you can wait for the indexes to be completed, one state at a time. If you aren’t that patient, try to figure out where your relatives were in 1940. If they didn’t relocate from their home in the 1930 census, the link I mentioned above will help you find the corresponding enumeration district for the 1940 Census. It is like a bit like an archeological dig – lots of preparation will help get you to the right enumeration district and you can page through until you find the correct street. Fair warning, it will also take some luck! Me. I was lucky today!