1940 Census, General Information
More 1940 Census Resources
Part 1: General Information
The 1940 census was released digitally on April 2, 2012.
The digital images are accessible free of charge at NARA facilities nationwide through our public access computers as well as on personal computers via the internet.
The 1950 and later censuses are not available for public use because of a statutory 72-year restriction on access for privacy reasons. (92 Stat. 915; Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978). If you need information about yourself or a deceased person from the 1950 or later censuses, fill out Form BC-600 from the Bureau of the Census Age Search Service or write to: U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 East 10th St., Jeffersonville, IN 47132.
The census day was April 1, 1940.
1940 Census Forms
The 1940 census questionnaire was printed on 23 3/4" x 12 1/2" paper. These double sided forms provided space for 40 entries on each side plus two additional lines for the 5% sample questions. The reverse side was identical except that lines were numbered 41 to 80, and the sample-line numbers were different.
View a blank 1940 census form.
Print out a 1940 census template (legal size).
Questions Asked on the 1940 Census
Many of the questions on the 1940 census are the standard ones: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. But the 1940 census also asks many new questions. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter an [a circled x] after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. The 1940 also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person's father and mother; the person's usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24-30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage.
The complete list of the questions follows:
- Street, avenue, road, etc.
- House number (in cities and towns).
- Number of household in order of visitation.
- Home owned (O) or rented (R).
- Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented.
- Does this household live on a farm? (Yes or No).
- Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household. Be sure to include:
- Persons temporarily absent from household. Write "Ab" after names of such persons.
- Children under 1 year of age. Write "Infant" if child has not been given a first name.
- Enter X after name of person furnishing information.
- Persons temporarily absent from household. Write "Ab" after names of such persons.
- Relationship of this person to the head of the household, as wife, daughter, father, mother-in-law, grandson, lodger, lodger's wife, servant, hired hand, etc...
- Sex - Male (M), Female (F).
- Color or race.
- Age at last birthday.
- Marital status - Single (S), Married (M), Widowed (Wd), Divorced (D).
- Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940? (Yes or No)
- Highest grade of school completed.
- If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937. Distinguish Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State (Eire) from Northern Ireland.
- Citizenship of the foreign born.
IN WHAT PLACE DID THIS PERSON LIVE ON April 1, 1935? For a person who, on April 1, 1935, was living in the same house as at present, enter in Col. 17 "Same house," and for one living in a different house but in the same city or town, enter "Same place," leaving Cols. 18, 19, and 20 blank, in both instances. For a person who lived in a different place, enter city or town, county, and State, as directed in the Instructions. (Enter actual place of residence, which may differ from mail address.)
- City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter "R" for all other places.
- State (or Territory or foreign country).
- On a farm? (Yes or No).
Persons 14 Years Old and Over - Employment Status:
- Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
- If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. ("No" in Cols. 21 and 22).
- Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Yes or No).
- If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No).
For persons answering "No" to question 21, 22, 23 and 24.
- Indicate whether engaged in home housework (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot).
If at private or nonemergency Govt. work. "Yes" in col. 21.
- Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.
If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work. ("Yes" in Col. 22 or 23).
- Duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 - in weeks.
Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker:
For a person at work, assigned to public emergency work, or with a job ("Yes" in Col. 21, 22, or 24), enter present occupation, industry, and class of worker. For a person seeking work ("Yes" in Col. 23): a) if he has previous work experience, enter last occupation, industry, and class of worker; or b) if he does not have previous work experience, enter "New worker" in Col. 28, and leave Cols. 29 and 30 blank.
- Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher.
- Industry: Industry or business, as cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard, public school.
- Class of Worker.
- Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks).
Income in 1939 (12 months ended December 31, 1939):
- Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions).
- Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Yes or No).
- Number of Farm Schedule.
Supplementary Questions 35-50:
For persons enumerated on lines 14 and 29 [about a 5% sample of the population]
For Persons of All Ages:
Place of Birth of Father and Mother
If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937. Distinguish: Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.
Mother Tongue (or Native Language):
- Language spoken in home in earliest childhood.
Is this person a veteran of the United States military forces; or the wife, widow, or under-18-year-old child of a veteran?
- If so, enter "Yes."
- If child, is veteran-father dead? (Yes or No)
- War or military service.
- Does this person have a Federal Social Security Number? (Yes or No)
- Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement made from this person's wages or salary in 1939? (Yes or No)
- If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, (3) part, but less than half, of wages or salary?
Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker:
Enter that occupation which the person regards as his usual occupation and at which he is physically able to work. If the person is unable to determine this, enter that occupation at which he has worked longest during the past 10 years and at which he is physically able to work. Enter also usual industry and usual class of worker. For a person without previous work experience, enter "None" in column 45 and leave columns 46 and 47 blank.
- Usual occupation.
- Usual industry.
- Usual class of worker.
For all women who are or have been married:
- Has this woman been married more than once? (Yes or No)
- Age at first marriage.
- Number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths).
Symbols and Explanatory Notes
|Codes Used||Code Meaning|
Color or Race
Age at Last Birthday
Highest Grade of
1 to 8
H-1 to H-4
C1 to C4
Elementary School, 1st to 8th
High School, 1st to 4th year
College, 1st to 4th year
College, 5th year or more
the Foreign Born
Having First Papers
American Citizen Born Abroad
|Columns 30 and 47:
Class of Worker
|Wage/Salary Worker in Private Work
Wage/Salary Worker in Gov't Work
Working on Own Account
Unpaid Family Worker
Spanish-American War; Philippine
Insurrection or Boxer Rebellion
Spanish-American War & World War
Regular Establishment or
Other War or Expedition
Return to 1940 Census Main Page
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