The following are standard abbreviations found in genealogy or in old county or state history books. These can be found in a census as well but it is better to check the abbreviations for that census as they can be quite different.
Knowing what the symbols and abbreviations you find on the 1940 census is helpful. Good researchers never guess. Table shown with the Codes Used, Their Meaning, & what column number/heading in which they appear.
There are four sites that are indexing the census (see prior article, “Confused? Thought the indexing of 1940 census was a cooperative project by all?“). But if all are indexing the 1940 census, why wouldn’t the images look exactly the same?
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter why they don’t but which one is the best. Fortunately for me personally the top two are the ones I use the most. What about you?
A census enumerator is the person who went from home by home to take the census.
The 1940 census asked many questions. If you are familiar with researching prior censuses, the 1940 census asked “those” questions but even more.
- Wouldn’t you LOVE to know on the census who gave the information to the enumerator? In the 1940 census, the enumerator was to place an “X” by that person’s name.
- The 1940 census lists the highest grade of school completed. Note that last word of that sentence; I suspect some gave the last grade they attended.
- Where did they live in 1935!!!! That’s wonderful. Don’t we wish we had this for 1925, 1915, 1905, 1895, etc.
- The 1940 census collected data on those 14 years of age or older especially in regard to the WPA, CCC, etc. Question was asked specifically about the week of March 24-30, 1940. This section is quite detailed. If not working, were they seeking work? Were they unable to work? How many hours did they work?
- We’ve used occupation from the censuses for years but never had this data — the number of weeks worked in 1939 (equivalent full-time weeks).
- Three questions on their income in 1939. One is the “Number of Farm Schedule”. [Note: Admit that I will have to look up what is a Farm Schedule. Even though I was raised on a farm, I don’t remember that term ever being used.]
- And 5% of the population were asked even more questions.
See the complete list of the 1940 Census Enumerator Instructions which includes a Symbols and Explanatory Notes table