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This Week's Facts:

-Special Facts for Features Compares Life in 1940 vs. 2012

-National Archives Offers Insight How Census Evolved Over Time

-Survey Enables Census to Provide More Current Data

-April 9th is Deadline to Register for Indiana Primary

Census Releases New Research Matters Blog

There is a brand-new blog from the Census Bureau! Research Matters was launched on the 19th of this month and seeks to highlight research at the Census Bureau. Not only do people use Census data when conducting their own research, but the Bureau itself is a subject for study – anyone with an interest in demography, economics, or methodological approaches will find this interesting. The blog also seeks to show the sort of work the Census Bureau does – it’s not just a matter of sending out a questionnaire every ten years. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved in collecting and disseminating important population data! Be sure to read the introductory post for more information. Stay tuned for more.

April 9th is Deadline to Register for Primary Election

The primary elections have been going on around the United States for months now, and Indiana’s is just around the corner. April 9th is the deadline to register to vote in the primaries, so be sure to register if you want to exercise your civic right this May. You can register online at the Indiana Statewide Voter Registration System. You can also use this site to find your polling place, confirm your registration, find out who your elected officials are.


Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Elisabeth Hedges
Federal Documents Librarian

Kim Brown-Harden
State Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program

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Special Facts for Features Compares Life in 1940 vs. 2012

Census: Facts for Features - 1940 CensusThe Census Bureau’s Facts for Features resource has issued a special edition for the 1940 Census records release on April 2. Below are some of the comparisons of social and economic demographics between the time of the 1940 Census and year 2010. 

Number of housing units:
1940 Census:
37.2 million
2010 Census: 131.7 million

Occupations listed as examples
1940 Census:
frame spinner, salesman, laborer, rivet heater, music teacher
2010 American Community Survey (ACS): Computer programmers, human resources managers, clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, special education teachers

Percent of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher
1940 Census:
2010 ACS: 28%

Median Annual salary/earnings
1940 Census:
$956 for men, $592 for women
2010 ACS: $33,276 for men, $24,157 for women  

Cost of the Census
1940 Census:
$67.5 million (This would amount to $1.0 billion in 2010 dollars. So about $7.56 per capita for the 132.2 million people counted in 1940.)
2010 Census and 2010 ACS: $12.4 billion (Estimated cost, covering fiscal years 2001 through 2013. This total equates to about $40.17 per capita for the 308.7 million people counted in 2010, plus the cost to conduct and release detailed ACS data each year.)

National Archives Offers Insight How Census Evolved Over Time

National Archives Releases 1940 CensusThe National Archives and Records Administration’s release of the 1940 Census records Monday gives us the opportunity to look back at how the census questionnaires have changed over the years. At the State Library, one of the free databases we offer patrons access to in the building is If a patron is at our library and on a computer, he or she can click the link for Databases on the left of the library’s main web page to access Ancestry Library Edition. This service provides blank schedules of the U.S. Census under its “Charts and Forms” tab. Patrons can download PDFs of blank forms from all U.S. Censuses from 1790 to 1940, plus a blank Veterans schedule from 1890 and the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules, which are useful for African American genealogical research.

The blank schedule for 1790 lists less than 10 questions, including city and county of residence, name of head of family, free white males of 16 years and upwards, free white males under 16 years, free white females, all other free persons, and slaves. These blank forms can enable a patron who is researching family history to determine what details they can gather about ancestors’ lives over 15 different decades of censuses. By the time of the 1890 Census, there were 25 questions asked of every household, including marital status, place of birth of head of household and parents, citizenship/naturalization, trade/occupation, months employed during the year, ability to read and write, and additional social and health-related questions.

By 1940, the census had grown to 81 different questions. This was the first census to introduce probability sampling, which eventually lead to the census having one short form with basic questions and one long form, which contained the same questions as the short form, but asked additional questions to only a sample of the population. Because the housing questions asked were so different from Population questions, separate schedules were used for Housing questions in 1940 – creating a Census of Occupied Dwellings and a Census of Vacant Dwellings. This expanded the census and collected data on Race, number of persons in household, length of residence, and more. According to a February press release by the Census Bureau, “many of these questions were added to measure the effects of the Great Depression.”

When you’re using the newly released 1940 Census records, there are many websites that provide clues to those of us who hunt for history clues. The following are provided by the Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library:

Survey Enables Census to Provide More Current Data

US Census: American Community SurveyWhen someone mentions the Census Bureau, most people think about the Decennial Census done every 10 years. Those same people are very surprised when they receive a questionnaire from the Census in a year that doesn’t end in 0. Chances are, they’ve been randomly selected to participate in the American Community Survey. The American Community Survey, or ACS, replaces the long questionnaire that used to appear in the Decennial Census. It requests a similar amount of detail, but because it gets sent out every year, allows users to access more current data. Since not everyone fills out the ACS every year, it is not considered 100% data, like the Decennial Census is; rather, it is an estimate. The data appears in American FactFinder, so you can access it the same way you would Decennial Census data. When you’re there, you’ll notice options for 1-year estimates, 3-year estimate, and 5-year estimates. The 1-year estimates are produced annually and cover geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more. The 3-year estimates are data over a span of three years, and cover areas with a population of 20,000 or more. Finally, the 5-year estimates cover areas with small populations. For more information, be sure to check out the ACS main page from the Census Bureau. You can read more about the methodology, how to use the data, and even look at an interactive form.

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