Who Will You Be Looking For First In The 1940 Census?

The 1940 census is the first my Dad was included in. He was born in a house on the street my parents still live on,  in the house next door to the one in which I grew up. The city of Attleboro, Massachusetts, was a town in 1940 with a population of 22,071 (Thanks to Joel Weintraub for that information!), and on April 2, 2012, my plan is to pour myself a cup (or three) of coffee and scroll through page after page of Attleboro’s census returns until I find him. Thanks to Steve Morse’s Unified 1940 Census ED Finder, I already know which enumeration districts to check first. I grew up hearing stories of the neighbors, so I’ll be looking for them as well. And cousins over on Read Street, and Thurber Ave.

The great aunts in nearby Pawtucket, Rhode Island, will be a bit harder to find, although knowing their address will help once I find the right enumeration district. It’s locating my elusive Great Grandfather Joseph that will be the challenge, and (ever the optimist) the thrill… By 1940, he’d already, quite mysteriously, abandoned his family and left for parts unknown. It would be his last census, as two years later he passed away and was interred in what would later become the family burial plot. While others in the family knew of his whereabouts and activities in the last decade of his life, they took that knowledge to their graves, alongside him in the family plot. Realistically, there’s little chance of locating Joseph until an online index becomes available, but I’ll still be keeping an eye out as I scroll through images in the early days of the census’s release 🙂

Who will you be looking for first?


Who Will You Be Looking For First In The 1940 Census? — 2 Comments

  1. Claire,
    I’m from Attleoro as well… tracking all my family members. Found my grandfathers on Perry Ave and County St… had to search thru several EDs. But… I’m stuck. My mother and father are not shown living with parents which I had surmised based on City Directories I had searched a few years ago. I guess I’ll have to check them out again, especially 39, 40, and 41! Have you tried these?

  2. Hi Doug,
    Thanks for your comment. I was surprised to find my Dad and his family were not living where i expected to find them. After quite a bit of page by page searching I was able to find him. Exciting!

    I have had good luck with the Attleboro city directories. In fact I was in Attleboro earlier this week and had a chance to do some research in the local studies room at the library. I did use the directories but I didn’t notice if there were any from years that would be helpful for the 1940 census. Give them a call. The staff is very friendly and they may be able to look through one of the directories while you wait on the phone. Good luck!


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