Wednesday, January 25, 2012

68 Days until the 1940 Census!

   I saw this little reminder when I signed into Ancestry. 68 Days until the 1940 Census is released.

       This is something I have been waiting for for quite a while. Basically ever since I realized not all old census records are available. It happened after digging and digging for my Swedish Immigrant great grandparents. They came after the 1920 Census, so they appeared in the 1930 Census. I was ecstatic to finally find some new info. I got frustrated when I began to look for them in a 1940 census. That's because there was no 1940 census. Yet.
        That's when I learned that to be available to the public, a census had to reach it's 72nd birthday. 72nd? Seriously? That 2 after the 7 really messed with me as time passed. 2010 rolled around and I got excited when I remembered the 1940 census. I started searching for it until I remembered that 2. I had two more years to wait. I was getting impatient. And what's up with that 2? Annoying for a person who enjoys stalking the dead.

       It turns out, the 72-year rule is not law, but a rule posed by Roy V. Peel, Census Bureau Director, in a letter to Wayne C. Grover, Archivist, on August 26, 1952. (See info here). I read the letter Mr. Peel sent, and it never gives any reason for the arbitrary number 72.
        BUT.... In 1952, life expectancy for any given person was 68.6 years. So with that in mind, if you tack on 4 years, based on life expectancy, everyone who had given their personal information would most likely be dead, and there'd be no danger or threat to privacy in releasing the information.

        Makes sense. I guess.

   So anyways, there's your bit of babble for today. 68 days!  68 days until I find out where my Jonsson grandparents were, what they were doing, and more personal information! I said..... I stalk dead people.......It's fun.

Helge Sigurd Jonsson & Esther Eugenia Stenman

I also cannot fail to mention the hope I have in finding my great grandfather AJ Smith in this census. It will be his last, as he died 5 years later. He left his first wife and married my great grandmother, Joanne Olsen. But I can't find any marriage records for them, and I can't locate him in the 1930 Census. So I am really looking forward to finding him in the 1940 census. It's been easy to locate him when he's married to his first wife. But married to my great grandma? Not so much. He's proved to be pretty elusive after the depression. 

*Once the government hands off the papers, will be working around the clock to scan and enter the data. the way I read it, they would keep everyone updated on where they were in the process through the night/day until it's all in. So get ready! It's almost here!

1 comment:

  1. I did not know this. Sounds exciting in case you have American ancestors! Good luck with the search. I tried to google why the rule is 72 years but I couldn't find it either (your explanation sounds likely).