Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

July 10, 2012
California's 1940 Census records now name searchable

1940 Census.jpgSome time last month the 1940 Census Indexing Project completed work on California records. What that means for the family historian is that valuable information on ancestors living in the Golden State in 1940 may now be found by name.

As explained in The Bee when the federal government made this census public in May, a researcher needed to know the address -- or at least the block -- of a person to retrieve the hand-written tally sheet containing the specific data.

With the hard work of countless volunteers who transcribed the tally sheets, the West Coast records are name searchable using the interface provided by FamilySearch. Here you can enter a name which can stand alone or be narrowed by state, county, city, gender, race or relationship to head of household.

What you get is a surprising amount of personal information. Take for example Eleanor Grace McClatchy, head of The Bee's parent company in 1940. Her Census record tells us her age (42), marital status (divorced), race (white), birth state (California), her status as head of household and the names and relationships of persons living in that household (a nephew, housekeeper and cook). If you call up the original Census record, you see her home address (2112 22nd St., now site of the Ella K. McClatchy branch of the Sacramento Public Library), as well as the names and addresses of neighbors. In addition, there is her occupation and employer (President, McClatchy Newspapers).

As of this date, most of the U.S. states have been 100 percent indexed. To see the status of your home state, visit the 1940 Census Project web site.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo provided by the National Archives, an enumerator interviews a woman for the 1940 Census. AP Photo/National Archives at College Park

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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