Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1940 Census: Not Excited

1939 Westerly City DIR by midgefrazel
1939 Westerly City DIR, a photo by midgefrazel on Flickr.

Why I am not excited by the 1940 census!
Most people I know are excited by the upcoming release of the 1940 census. But, I am not. Surprised? (me, too)

This snippet of a  page from the 1939 Westerly, RI City Directory explains my lack of interest in spending time searching for ED's and making list of people to look up before the indexing process is complete.

Oh, I started a list. I did. When I pulled it out this weekend, it suddenly dawned on me why it was so short.

By 1940, my family was becoming smaller and smaller. Even my immigrant Scottish grandparents had died. 

This snippet shows my Aunt as head of household as my grandfather, Thomas, her father, died on 21 April 1937. What I didn't notice the first time I read this was that my father, also named Thomas, is listed as "Harcom" which was what  his middle name sounded like.

 My father, given the same name as his father, was given a family surname, Harcomb for his middle name, in memory of his great grandmother, Margaret Harcomb, wife of Thomas Broadfoot.

It pays to go back over your previous research. Despite knowing that he was called that, I didn't notice this listing. I was too excited to have the exact date of my grandfather's death so that a friend could find his death record for me.

In 1939, my father was still living at home, so now I have the address. The only mystery was where is my father's brother, who also lived at this address. He didn't marry until 1951 and he suffered from epilepsy. I think he should be living here.

On my mother's side, I know where she is in 1940. She is living at home and going to college. My maternal grandparents bought a house while she was in high school, so I know they still live there. My family on that side kept great records so I know exactly who was living in Heaven by 1940. I don't think that location was enumerated.

Why don't I care? Well, because the 1940 census substitute of the city directories of many places in Rhode Island are so great and because so much of my family was dead by 1940.

Oh, yes, and because I wasn't born yet.  Yes, it is all about me.


Denise Coughlin said...

Nice..ME!! I'm not going to tell you my parents weren't born yet so I know where they were too!

But you make a great point about city directories. If you have them, they are great BUT if you are researching rural areas (such as "moi") the census will hopefully show where a few of my oddballs are...at least that's the hope!!

Carmen Johnson said...

I'm wondering when the census was taken. If it is after July then my Dad will be in it - if it is before then I won't be so lucky. I got excited when I got access to the 1920 census and thought I would be able to find my Dad's folks. My grandfather was never counted (Dad thought they were down on the breaks of the Missouri) and my grandmother was actually born the day after the census was taken. I guess there is no entry for a very pregnant woman.