Thursday, October 13, 2011

1940 Census Opens April 2012

Today’s post is brought to you by Constance Potter, Archivist in the Archives I Research Support Branch, and Jennifer Dryer of Archives II, who is currently cross-training at Archives I.
The release of the 1940 population census schedules is approaching! It will be released digitally on April 2, 2012. You will be able to access all 1940 census records online at any of the public computer workstations at National Archives facilities, as well as from any computer connected to the internet.
On April 2nd, you will be able to search by state; county; city; township or minor civil division, and enumeration data. There will be no name index on April 2nd.

As recorded in the 1940 census, the population of the continental United States rose 7.2% by 8,894,229 people from 1930 to 1940 (122,775,046 in the 1930 census to 131,669,275 in the 1940 census). Between 1930 and 1940, most states increased in population, with the largest increase being in Washington D.C. with a 36.2% increase of 176,222 people. South Dakota had the largest decrease in population with a 7.2% decrease of 49,888; however, the populations of North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma also decreased, most likely indicating people moving away from the Dust Bowl of the Midwest.
If you need information about yourself or a deceased person from the 1940 or later censuses, fill out Form BC-600 from the Bureau of the Census Age Search Service or write to: U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 East 10th St., Jeffersonville, IN 47132.
For more information you may visit the National Archive’s 1940 census webpage.

Using the Official Register to find Federal employees

Most people who research information about relatives or ancestors who were Federal employees probably don’t make enough use of government publications.  So, it might interest you to know that the Federal Government actually produced its own employee directory, the Official Register of the United States, which spans the early 19th to the mid-20th centuries (1817-1959).  Available in most U.S. Government depository libraries (including our own Archives Library Information Center at the National Archives) as well as many larger public and university libraries that carry government publications, the Official Register offers information in varying detail about the Federal workforce from the highest level appointments to the average bureau clerk.
On April 27, 1816, Congress authorized publication of the Official Register, to be produced every two years in conjunction with the sitting of each new Congress.  The Register contained comprehensive listings of all civilian, military, and naval employees, officers, and agents of the Federal Government, with the lists arranged by department and then by agency, bureau, or office.  Congress also required the Secretary of the Navy to provide the names, force, and condition of all ships and vessels belonging to the United States, including when and where they were built.  Subsequent acts of Congress expanded the scope of the Register’s content to include the names of all government printers, a statement of monetary allowances to mail contractors from the Postmaster General, as well as correct lists of all presidents, cashiers, and directors of the Bank of the United States and its branches.  Other departments, agencies, and bureaus were added to the Register as they were created.
Information about government employees was initially presented in a tabular format, which provided an overall picture of the organizational structure of each department.  The tables contained such pertinent information as the employee’s name, job title, state or country of birth, the location of their post, and their annual salary.  The military lists provided the names of officers, rank, and place of birth, while the naval lists also included date of commission and current duty station.  From 1907 to 1921 the publication opted for a directory format or standard alphabetical listing.  Eventually, as the size of the government grew, the Official Register became too large and expensive to publish.  The information was scaled back to include only the top-level administrators and supervisors of Executive and Judicial departments until the yearly directory went out of publication in 1959.
Sample of the Official Register showing employees of the Post Office Department, 1907.

As a convenient starting point for genealogy research on civilian employees of the Federal Government, the Official Register of the United States can show, at a glance, whether or not an ancestor worked for the government in a given year, and also identify the department, bureau, or office they served.  In many cases, the breakdown of department listings into specific jobs provides additional detail on the nature of work performed.  Genealogists can also readily identify the place of birth for most employees, and the Congressional district from which they were appointed.  The lists of annual salaries and contractor allowances provide a general picture of the economic conditions under which Federal employees served.  Essentially, the Official Register offers an initial snapshot of life as a Federal employee from 1816 to 1959.
Posted by on July 29, 2011, under Family Tree Fridays, Genealogy / Family History, Research.