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Research Guides

U.S. Decennial Census: 1940

Decade by decade information about how to access and use U.S. Census reports.

Census By Decade

1790  1800  1810  1820  1830  1840  1850  1860  1870  1880  1890  1900

1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000  2010  2020

About the 1940 census

Highlights

 

  • 16th decennial census
  • US population: 131,669,275
  • Washington population: 1,736,191
  • New focus on labor and economic issues.
  • The Census of Housing was the first nationwide, detailed inventory of housing.
  • First census to use sampling.
  • Statistics for census tracts reported for the first time for select cities (Note: San Diego not included)
  • Special interactive page on 1940 Census

Questions asked

  • Information obtained from all persons:
    • Address;
    • home owned or rented;
    • value or monthly rental;
    • whether on a farm;
    • name;
    • relationship to head of household;
    • sex;
    • race;
    • age;
    • marital status;
    • school or college attendance;
    • educational attainment;
    • place of birth;
    • citizenship of foreign born;
    • county,
    • State, and town or village of residence 5 years ago and whether on a farm;
    • employment status;
    • if at work, whether in private or nonemergency government work, or in public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.);
    • if in private or nonemergency government work, number of hours worked during week of March 24-30;
    • if seeking work or on public emergency work, duration of unemployment;
    • occupation, industry, and class of worker;
    • number of weeks worked last year;
    • wage or salary income last year and whether received other income of $50 or more.
  • Information from 5-percent sample:
    • Place of birth of parents;
    • language spoken in home in earliest childhood;
    • veteran status;
    • which war or period of service;
    • whether wife or widow of veteran;
    • whether a child under 18 of a veteran and, if so, whether father is living;
    • whether has Social Security number, and if so, whether deductions were made from all part of wages or salary;
    • occupation, industry, and class of worker;
    • of women ever married-whether married more than once, age at first marriage, and number of children ever born.
  • Supplemental schedule for infants born during the four months preceding the census.

Statistics

Multi-year census compilations (compare across years)

These tend to include statistics for large geographic areas (eg states) but can be very useful when comparing statistics over time.

See: list of all census compilations

Guides and Documentation

More Information from the Census Bureau

Statistics: Census Compilations

Raw Data Files

Population Schedules

Census population schedules (or "name schedules" or "manuscript census") are copies of the original questionnaires collected during each decennial census. They list the individual names and family information of the people enumerated. Unlike the statistics published soon after the census, the population schedules remain confidential for 72 years. 1930 is the most recent population schedule available. Below are links to print and on-line versions of the population schedules. The library also has selected population schedules available on microfilm.

Contact

Need help?  Call the Government Publications, Maps, Microforms & Newspapers help desk at (206) 543-4164 during desk hours.  You can also consult the Ask Us! reference service (24/7).