What Can We Learn from the 1940 Census?

The information  below was extracted from the 1940 Census for my husband’s REID family.

Source: 1940 US Census, District of Columbia, population schedule Washington, Enumeration District (ED) 1-378 . sheet number 8A., Line numbers 2-17 , Ernest Reid; NARA digital images; http://1940census.archives.gove/ (accessed April 3, 2012).

From this image we learn the following about the REID Family.

On April 19, 1940, Clara Reid provided the following information to the census taker, based on things as they were 18 days before, on April 1, 1940.

The REID family was living at 703 Quincey Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia. They owned their home, valued at $7500 and had lived at this address in 1935 as well. All of the family members are white.

Ernest Reid (the Head of House) was 70 years old on his last birthday. He was born in Virginia and completed 8 years of school. We learn that Ernest worked no hours during the week of March 24-March 30, 1940. He did not work in 1939 and received no wages that year. He did receive more than $50 from sources other than money wages or salary in 1939.  Given his age, it is assumed that he retired from employment before 1939. He was unable to work, according to the information provided to the census taker.

Clara Reid, wife of Ernest, turned 65 on her last birthday. She also completed 8 years of school. Clara was born in the District of Columbia. She was unable to work in 1939. Clara also received more than $50 from sources other than money wages or salary in 1939.

The other household members listed here include:

A married son, William, who turned 34 on his last birthday. William was born in the District of Columbia, completed 4 years of high school and was employed as a meat cutter in the Retail Grocery industry. He worked at this occupation 48 hours during the week of March 24-March 30, 1940 and worked 52 weeks during 1939, earning $1200 wages for the year.

William’s wife, Ethel, turned 30 on her last birthday. She was born in New York and completed 4 years of high school.  Ethel was engaged in home housework in 1939 as well as for the week of March 24-March 30, 1940.

A single son, Andrew, who turned 31 on his last birthday is in the household. Andrew was born in the District of Columbia and completed 4 years of high school. He was a meat cutter in the Retail Grocery industry and worked 24 hours during the week of March 24-March 30, 1940. Andrew worked as a meat cutter in 1939, working 52 full weeks, earning $1100. for the year.

Another single son, Warren, turned 20 on his last birthday. He was born in the District of Columbia and competed 10th grade.  Clara gave information to the census taker that Warren did not work in 1939 but attended school and was in school during the week of March 24-March 30, 1940.

William Reid and his wife, Ethel, lived in at this address in 1935. With them in their grandparents household were 5 grandchildren of Ernest and Clara – children of William and Ethel. Louise, 17 years old on her last birthday, completed 10th grade and attended school in the last month; Joseph T., 15 on his last birthday, completed 9th grade and attended school in the last month; Richland turned 11 years old on his last birthday, completed 4th grade and attended school in the last month; Bryan turned 8 years old on his last birthday, completed 2nd grade and attended school in the last month; Dennis turned 2 years old on his last birthday. All of William and Ethel’s children were born in the District of Columbia.

NOTE:  Census data is not always accurate and for the purpose of extracting the data from the 1940 Census, I made no corrections. Do not rely on the data given to the census taker, as it is sometimes not correct. For example, William and Andrew Reid were born in Fairfax County, Virginia, not in the District of Columbia as stated on the census. Andrew Reid did not complete high school – he had only a 6th grade education according to what he always told my husband, his son. Clara apparently overstated the level of eduction of her children. The census is a tool, but digging for additional information is always a good idea.

Template for this extraction is based on the work of Spencer Fields, who is working towards  a degree in Genealogy from Brigham Young University.

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