What’s an Enumerator? What did they ask?

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.

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