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1940 United States Census

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Title: 1940 United States Census  
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1940 United States Census

Sixteenth Census
of the United States
U.S. Census Bureau Seal
Population Schedule
General information
Country United States
Date taken April 1, 1940 (1940-04-01)
Total population 132,164,569
Percent change Increase 7.3%
Most populous state New York
Least populous state Nevada

The Sixteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 132,164,569, an increase of 7.3 percent over the 1930 population of 123,202,624 persons. The census date of record was April 1, 1940. A number of new questions were asked including where people were 5 years before, highest educational grade achieved, and information about wages. This census introduced sampling techniques; one in 20 people were asked additional questions on the census form. Other innovations included a field test of the census in 1939.

Census questions

The 1940 census collected the following information:[1]

  • address
  • home owned or rented
  • school attendance
  • educational attainment
  • birthplace
  • if foreign born, citizenship
  • location of residence five years ago and whether on a farm
  • employment status
  • if at work, whether in private or non-emergency government work, or in public emergency work (WPA, CCC, NYA, etc.)
    • if in private or non-emergency government work, hours worked in week
    • if seeking work or on public emergency work, duration of unemployment
  • occupation, industry and class of worker
  • weeks worked last year
  • wage and salary income last year

In addition, a sample of individuals were asked additional questions covering age at first marriage, fertility, and other topics. Full documentation on the 1940 census, including census forms and a procedural history, is available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.

Data availability

1940 US Census poster

Following completion of the census, the original enumeration sheets were microfilmed; after which the original sheets were destroyed.[2]

As required by Title 13 of the U.S. Code, access to personally identifiable information from census records was restricted for 72 years.[3] Non-personally identifiable information Microdata from the 1940 census is freely available through the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Also, aggregate data for small areas, together with electronic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.

On April 2, 2012[4]—72 years after the census was taken—microfilmed images of the 1940 census enumeration sheets were released to the public by the crowdsourcing.[7]

State rankings

1940 U.S. State Population Rankings
Rank State Population Region
1 New York 13,479,142 North East
2 Pennsylvania 9,900,180 North East
3 Illinois 7,897,241 Midwest
4 Ohio 6,907,612 Midwest
5 California 6,907,387 West
6 Texas 6,414,824 South
7 Michigan 5,256,106 Midwest
8 Massachusetts 4,316,721 North East
9 New Jersey 4,160,165 North East
10 Missouri 3,784,664 Midwest
11 North Carolina 3,571,623 South
12 Indiana 3,427,796 Midwest
13 Wisconsin 3,137,587 Midwest
14 Georgia 3,123,723 South
15 Tennessee 2,915,841 South
16 Kentucky 2,845,627 South
17 Alabama 2,832,961 South
18 Minnesota 2,792,300 Midwest
19 Virginia 2,677,773 South
20 Iowa 2,538,268 Midwest
21 Louisiana 2,363,880 South
22 Oklahoma 2,336,434 South
23 Mississippi 2,183,796 South
24 West Virginia 1,961,974 South
25 Arkansas 1,949,387 South
26 South Carolina 1,899,804 South
27 Florida 1,897,414 South
28 Maryland 1,821,244 South
29 Kansas 1,801,028 Midwest
30 Washington 1,736,191 West
31 Connecticut 1,709,242 North East
32 Nebraska 1,315,834 Midwest
33 Colorado 1,123,296 West
34 Oregon 1,089,684 West
35 Maine 847,226 North East
36 Rhode Island 713,346 North East
x District of Columbia 663,091 South
37 South Dakota 642,961 Midwest
38 North Dakota 641,935 Midwest
39 Montana 559,456 West
40 Utah 550,310 West
41 New Mexico 531,818 West
42 Idaho 524,873 West
43 Arizona 499,261 West
44 New Hampshire 491,524 North East
45 Vermont 359,231 North East
46 Delaware 266,505 South
47 Wyoming 250,742 West
48 Nevada 110,247 West


  1. ^ "Library Bibliography Bulletin 88, New York State Census Records, 1790-1925".  
  2. ^ The Ancestry Insider (May 16, 2012). "1940 Census Update for 16 May 2012: Bad News". Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Historical Background". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 12, 2009. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  4. ^ "1940 Census". Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2006. 
  5. ^ Weinstein, Allen (April 2008). "Access to genealogy data at NARA grows" (PDF). NARA Staff Bulletin. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ Weinstein, Allen (Summer 2008). "Finding Out Who You Are: First Stop, National Archives". Prologue magazine, vol. 40, no. 2. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  7. ^ Daley, Bill (March 27, 2012). "Unlocking a new door to the 1940s – 1940 census details to be released to public". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 

External links

  • Official 1940 census website
  • 1940 Census Records from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
  • 1940 Federal Population Census Videos, training videos for enumerators at the U.S. National Archives
  • Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Housing Counts from the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Snow, Michael S. (opinion) "Why the huge interest in the 1940 Census?" CNN. Monday April 9, 2012.
  • 1940 Census Questions Hosted at
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