Friday, April 6, 2012

I might be a 1940 census ninja!

Well, all my best intentions to get this blog off the ground went astray right after my first post. Some family illness issues and the not so happy outcome of all that left me very distracted and little time to post.

Things are settling down now and starting to be sorted out so I hope to develop a good blogging routine here.

In the meantime, I have been stealing some moments to browse the new 1940 census images that have just become available on this week. I have been waiting impatiently for these to come out and just couldn't be bothered to wait for an indexed version to be published.

I have already found 4 of my families just browsing the printed images. That's 1 in Rowan county, North Carolina and 3 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I found my grandmother and my father and uncle as little boys right where I knew they would be on Caldwell St in Salisbury.

And I didn't just get lucky.

I had a plan.

Using my wide screen monitor to its best advantage, I used the split screen mode. On the left half I had a window open with to Ancestry. com 1940 census search. On the right side I opened a Google map and entered the address for my father's childhood home.

With the Salisbury census data, it was easy to parse out which enumeration district I needed to look at because they were really thourough in describing the N, S, E, W boundries of each district. I was able to narrow it down by looking at about 3 that fit the part of town I knew they were living in. I was paging backwards and forwards through the district, comparing addresses listed on the current page as I went.

I was able to locate them with only a little detailed page searching. The map allowed me to zero in on them quickly and rule out the wrong eds by watching the addresses on my target pages as they got farther or closer. Like that old kids game, I was getting hotter or colder.

I frankly surprised myself when I had found my dad and his family. I never dreamed that I would be successful without having an index to rely on. I was thrilled and it was quite a lot of fun being the detective.

My dad, Bobby B,  age 12, with his brother, my grandmother and great-grandmother in the 1940 census

I wanted to find my Little Rock relatives right away, but I was forced to wait until the Arkansas pages were uploaded. I checked back today and was able to locate 3 of my LR relatives using the same technique.

I never expected to have 4 hits with in 4 days of the census being released.

I declare myself the 1940 Census Ninja!

Feel free to try this strategy if you have a few spare minutes and love noodling around with maps as much as I do.

When you find your family member, be sure to save the census image link to a person or persons in your tree at or make a note of the url so you can go back to it. I saved the first record to my Grandmother Cleaver in Salisbury this way and it was easy to get back to it.

Happy ancestor hunting!

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