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1940 Census

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1940 Census To Be Released Online

The 1940 census will be released online by the National Archives on April 2, 2012.

Please bookmark this webpage: where you will be able to access the digitized census records starting on April 2. The digital images will be freely accessible online and at public access internet stations at NARA facilities nationwide.

Visit the National Archives website to find resources related to census resarch, or email with your questions.

1940 Census Photos

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About the Census

There were 132 million people living in the United States in 1940, Americans who had lived through the Great Depression and who would soon face world war on an unprecieented scale. 

The U.S. government made a concerted effort to increase public participation in the census. Census Bureau marketing campaigns targeted the general public but also broke from tradition by specially reaching out to ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, and people of color. That year the census included standard questions from years past, but respondents were also asked for the first time about their income and whether they worked for New Deal agencies like the WPA, CCC, or NYA. Millions of people enumerated by the 1940 census are still living today.

Harry Hopkins and the 1940 Census

Harry Hopkins was a close friend and advisor to FDR. He had administered New Deal federal works programs, including the FERA and WPA. By 1940, he was serving as Secretary of Commerce, a position that placed him in charge of the Census Bureau. Today, Hopkins’ official and personal papers are housed at the FDR Library, and his materials include correspondence, reports, photographs and promotional materials documenting the administrative aspects of the 1940 census.                

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1940 Census poster from the Harry Hopkins Papers FDR Library archives volunteer, Mae Scimeca, displays Harry Hopkins’ copy of a now famous poster promoting the 1940 census. March, 2012 at Hyde Park, NY.