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1940 United States Census Questions

Answers to the 1940 census questions in the United States were to be based on the status of households on April 1, 1940. Births, deaths, and marriages after that date were not to be counted in the 1940 census.

This was the first census after the great depression of the 1930s, and many families moved during that period of time in attempts to survive and find work. This 1940 census asked the unusual question of where this family had lived in 1935 to get a sense of the migrations within the country.


Column Question
Location (1-2)
1 Street, avenue, road, etc.
2 House number (in cities and towns)
Household Data (3-6)
3 Number of household in order of visitation
4 Home owned (O) or rented (R)
5 Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
6 Does this household live on a farm? (Yes or No)
Name and Relation (7-8)
7 Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household.
Be sure to include:
1. Persons temporarily absent from household. Write "Ab" after names of such persons.
2. Children under 1 year of age. Write "Infant" if child has not been given a first name.
Enter circled X after name of person furnishing information
8 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.
Personal Description (9-12)
9 Sex - Male (M), Female (F)
10 Color or race
11 Age at last birthday
12 Marital status - Single (S), Married (M), Widowed (Wd), Divorced (D)
Education (13-14)
13 Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940? (Yes or No)
14 Highest grade of school completed
Place of Birth and Citizenship (15-16)
15 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.
16 Citizenship of the foreign born
Residence, April 1, 1935 (17-20)
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.)
17 City, town, or village having 2,600 or more inhabitants.
If less, enter "R"
18 County
19 State (or Territory or foreign country)
20 On a farm? (Yes or No)
Persons 14 Years Old and Over - Employment Status (21-34)
21 Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Y or N)
22 If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Y or N)
If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. ("No" in Cols. 21 and 22) (23-24)
23 Was this person SEEKING WORK? (Y or N)
24 If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Y or N)
25 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)
26 If at private or nonemergency Govt. work. ("Yes" in col. 21.) Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940
27 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 (28-30)
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
28 Occupation:
Trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher
29 Industry:
Industry or business, as cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard, public school
30 Class of Worker
31 Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks)
Income in 1939 (32-33)
(12 months ended December 31, 1939)
32 Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions)
33 Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Y or N)
34 Number of Farm Schedule

Additionally, there was a set of supplementary questions asked of a small percentage of the population. The enumerators were to ask these questions for the individuals listed on lines 14 and 29 of the regular forms.


Column Question
35 Name
For Persons of All Ages (36-41)
Place of Birth of Father and Mother (36-37)
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.
36 Father
37 Mother
38 Mother Tongue
Language spoken in home in earliest childhood.
Veterans (39-41)
Is this person a veteran of the United States military forces; or the wife, widow, or under-18-year-old child of a veteran?
39 If so, enter "Yes."
40 If child, is veteran-father dead? (Y or N)
41 War or Military Service
For Persons 14 Years Old and Over (42-47)
Social Security (42-44)
42 Does this person have a Federal Social Security Number? (Yes or No)
43 Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement made from this person's wages or salary in 1939? (Yes or No)
44 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 (45-47)
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.
45 Usual Occupation
46 Usual Industry
47 Usual class of worker
For All Women Who Are or Have Been Married (48-50)
48 Has this woman been married more than once? (Yes or No)
49 Age at first marriage
50 Number of children ever born (Do not include stillbirths)

There were many coding instructions issued to the enumerators for the 1940 census. They are given below in the table because they help explain the symbols and abbreviations used in completing the 1940 census forms. Without them, you may be guessing at what the response was for a particular column.


Column Question
Col 5:
Value of home if owned
Where the owner's household occupies only a part of a structure, estimate the value of the portion occupied by owner's household. Thus, the value of the unit occupied by the owner of a two-family house might be approximately one-half the total value of the structure.
Column 10:
Color or Race
W - White
Neg - Negro
In - Indian
Chi - Chinese
Jp - Japanese
Fil - Filipino
Hin - Hindu
Kor - Korean
Other races, spell out in full
Column 11:
Age at Last Birthday
These are the corresponding ages in months for those children under 1 year of age. 11/12 - April 1939
10/12 - May 1939
9/12 - June 1939
8/12 - July 1939
7/12 - August 1939
6/12 - September 1939
5/12 - October 1939
4/12 - November 1939
3/12 - December 1939
2/12 - January 1940
1/12 - February 1940
Do not include children born on or after April 1, 1940.
Column 14:
Highest Grade of School Completed
0 - None
1 to 8 - Elementary School, 1st to 8th
H-1 to H-4 - High School, 1st to 4th year
C1 to C4 - College, 1st to 4th year
C-5 - College, 5th year or more
Column 16:
Citizenship of the Foreign Born
Na - Naturalized
Pa - Having First Papers
Al - Alien
Am Cit - American Citizen Born Abroad
Column 21:
Was This Person at Work?
Enter "Yes" for persons at work for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Government work. Include unpaid family workers - that is, related members of the family working without money wages or salary on work (other than housework or incidental chores) which contributed to the family income.
Column 24:
Did This Person Have a Job?
Enter "Yes" for a person (not seeking work) who had a job, business, or professional enterprise, but did not work during the week of March 24-30 for any of the following reasons: Vacation; temporary illness; industrial dispute; layoff not exceeding 4 weeks with instructions to return to work at a specific date; layoff due to temporarily bad weather conditions.
Columns 30 & 47:
Class of Worker
PW - Wage or salary worker in private work
GW - Wage or salary worker in Gov't work
E - Employer
OA - Working on own account
NP - Unpaid family worker
Column 41:
War or Military Service
W - World War
S - Spanish-American War; Philippine Insurrection or Boxer Rebellion
SW - Spanish-American War & World War
R - Regular Establishment (Army, Navy or Marine Corps) Peace-Time Service only
Ot - Other War or Expedition

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