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1940 Census Transcribing Help
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The 1940 census has no national index. It will take researchers a long time to find the name they are looking for without an index or Soundex Card to let them know what page number they need. Because of this, the Census Project is initiating a brief transcription of selected 1940 columns.  These initial incomplete transcriptions are only temporary files to get the pertinent information made available sooner.  Later we intend to go back and fill in the remaining columns to make full-transcriptions since that is the Census Project's ultimate goal. Of course, we would be delighted if you would prefer to transcribe all the 1940 columns of information. Both the brief transcription and full transcription templates are available. The choice is yours.

You will use a spreadsheet template to transcribe the 1940 Census.  Your Census Project State Coordinator will need to know what spreadsheet software and which version you have and whether you have an IBM-type PC or a MAC. A template download link will be provided to you with your assignment.

IMPORTANT: When using a template, please use the template that is specific to the spreadsheet software you are using. In other words, if you have MSWorks -although you can use an EXCEL spreadsheet, this causes problems for the File Managers later on because it changes the fraction ages and the month-spelled names when the files are prepared for the web. If you have MSWorks and do not have an MSWorks template for the census year you need, please contact your Census Project State Coordinator and ask for an MSWorks template. If you cannot reach your Census Project State Coordinator, the alternate email for templates: Transcriber@US-Census.org

Please remember, to keep from feeling overwhelmed at the amount of time and hard work involved in transcribing, you might want to request being assigned to just 1-3 EDs to start, and then if you can handle those, you can add additional EDs to your assignment.

You MUST use the correct census year template for the year you are transcribing because the columns vary for each census year. The "1940 Brief Transcription" template will include only the fields highlighted in RED. A "Full 1940 Transcription" would include all of the following fields.
  • STAMPED-PG #
  • LINE #
  • ENUMERATION DISTRICT #
  • SHEET #
  • PLACE OF ABODE
    (1) STREET, AVENUE, ROAD, ETC.
    (2) HOUSE NUMBER (in Cities or Towns)
    (3) NUMBER OF DWELLING HOUSE IN ORDER OF VISITATION [NUMBER SUPPLIED BY CENSUS TAKER]
  • HOME DATA
      (4) HOME OWNED OR RENTED
      (5) VALUE OF HOME, IF OWNED, OR MONTHLY RENTAL, IF RENTED
      (6) DOES THIS FAMILY LIVE ON A FARM?
  • (7) NAME (NAME OF EACH PERSON WHOSE PLACE OF ABODE ON APRIL 1, 1930, WAS IN THIS FAMILY.)
  • GAVE INFO - The enumerator's were instructed to mark the name of the person who provided the information with a bracketed "x". We have added a column after the person's name for the (x).
  • (8) RELATION (RELATIONSHIP OF THIS PERSON TO THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY.)
  • PERSONAL DESCRIPTION
    (9) SEX
    (10) COLOR OR RACE
    (11) AGE AT LAST BIRTHDAY
    (12) MARITAL CONDITION
  • EDUCATION
    (13) ATTENDED SCHOOL OR COLLEGE ANY TIME SINCE March. 1, 1940

    (14) GRADE COMPLETED
  • PLACE OF BIRTH
    (15) PLACE OF BIRTH: PERSON
  • (16) CITIZENSHIP
  • RESIDENCE
    (17) RESIDENCE IN 1935
    (18) COUNTY OF RESIDENCE IN 1935 (if different from current county)
    (19) STATE OF RESIDENCE IN 1935 (if different from current state)
    (20) ON A FARM (Yes/No) - (For all persons who have moved from one place to another since April 1, 1935. Did they live on a farm in 1935
  • EMPLOYMENT
    (21) WORKED ANYTIME LAST WEEK (Yes or No)
    (22) WORKED ON OR ASSIGNED TO PUBLIC EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.)
    (23) IS THIS PERSON SEEKING WORK (if "no" in Cols. 21 & 22)
    (24) DID THIS PERSON HAVE A JOB LAST WEEK (if not seeking work)
    (25) REASON WHY THIS PERSON IS NOT WORKING/SEEKING WORK
    (26) IF EMPLOYED, NUMBER OF HOURS WORKED LAST WEEK
    (27) IF UNEMPLOYED - HOW MANY WEEKS
    (28) OCCUPATION
    (29) INDUSTRY
    (30) CLASS WORK
    (31) NUMBER OF WEEKS WORKED IN 1939
    (32) WAGES IN 1939
    (33) INCOME OF $50 OR MORE OTHER THAN WAGES OR SALARY

  • (36) Father's Birthplace
  • (37) Mother's Birthplace
  • (38) Mother Tongue
  • (39) Veteran of military forces, wife, widow or minor child of a veteran
  • (40) If child, is veteran father deceased
  • (41) If column 39 is "Yes", which war?
  • (42) Does this person have a Social Security Number
  • (43) Deductions for Federal-Old-Age Insurance or RR Retirement made from this person's wages in 1939?
  • (44) If column 43 is "Yes" what portion of wages was it deducted from
  • (45) Usual Occupation
  • (46) Usual Industry
  • (47) Usual Class of Worker
  • (48) Has this woman been married more than once
  • (49) Age at first marriage
  • (50) Number of Children
  • TRANSCRIBER'S REMARKS



How to Enter the Census Data into the
1940 Spreadsheet Template

1st PART OF YOUR SPREADSHEET TEMPLATE
Enter as much information as possible on the fill-in block in the template to identify the census you are transcribing.

  • Census Year
  • Microfilm Reel # - The 1940 Microfilm Reel numbers all start with T627- followed by another number. Check the Assignment Web Pages to verify the film number of your transcription.
  • State
  • County or Parish
  • Township
  • Incorporated Place
  • Ward of City, Block#
  • Unincorporated Place
  • Name of Institution
  • Enumeration District #
  • Supervisor's District #
  • Enumerator
  • Enumeration Date Range
  • Media Source
  • Transcriber's name and email
  • Proofreader's name and email

2nd PART OF YOUR SPREADSHEET TEMPLATE
The 2nd part will have abbreviated column headings for each of the columns to be transcribed and a column with the LINE-Numbers already numbered for the first group of pages.

All the census information is to be entered exactly as recorded by the enumerator, except when the enumerator used a drawn horizontal line (), "ditto", or ditto marks ( " ) to repeat the name above. In this case, please enter the information that the drawn line or ditto represents.

When you complete the transcription of an Enumeration District, we recommend that you send it to your proofreader so the proofreading can be started as you continue working on the next District.

If you haven't found a proofreader yet, please read the Proofreading Decisions, and then visit the Proofreaders Exchange and sign up soon.

When your transcription has been proofread,
follow the Submission Instructions.



SHEET NUMBERS
Each Enumeration District will probably start with the first sheet numbered as "1A" on the front side and "1B" on the reverse side. Occasionally these page numbers were microfilmed out of order.Type the Sheet Number and the A (or B) in the "SHEET NO." Column.  Do not put a space between the number and the A (or B).

STAMPED PAGE NUMBERS
The stamped number is usually in the upper-right-corner near the "Sheet No." box.  Unfortunately, the sheets weren't always in the correct order when these numbers were stamped on them.  For the "A" side (which has the stamped number), type the stamped number in the PG# column, and type the A immediately after the number.  For the following unstamped "B" sheet, type the same number as the previous "A" sheet except type a B immediately after the number.

You will transcribe the census in the order it was microfilmed. If you find the Sheet numbers were out of order when microfilmed, you may want to write a transcriber's comment file to be uploaded along with your transcription.

LINE NUMBERS
Each 1940 census page has 80 lines. The lines on the "A" or front side are numbered 1 through 40 and the lines on the "B" or reverse side are numbered 41 through 80. The templates already have line numbers for the beginning pages.  If your Enumeration District is large and you come to the end of the line-numbered rows, copy the line numbers on down the column for the additional pages. If the census page starts with the first person recorded on line 2, then you do the same, make it match the actual line numbers on the census as best as possible.  Occasionally an Enumerator will miss entering a name and then go back and squeeze a name in the top part of a line.  In this case, insert another line so there are two lines for the row with the squeezed-in name.  Use the same line number for the two rows and add an "a" after the line number for the top name and a "b" after the line number for the bottom name.

When the Enumerator skipped lines within a page, the easiest thing to do is add a comment in the REMARKS column with something like "Lines 5-10 were skipped by the Enumerator". Then start with the next line number which was used by the Enumerator.

When the enumerator left several of the ending lines empty, simply add a REMARK in the last used line with something like "The remaining lines on this page were not used by the enumerator".

By including a REMARK whenever there are empty lines, you remove any doubt the researcher (and File Manager who processes your file) may have that something is wrong.



PLACE OF ABODE (Columns 1-3)
  • STREET NUMBER (1)
    The street (avenue, road, etc.) name or number (if included) will be written sideways. Enter what you see, if they have filled this in. The house number was more likely filled in when the census was taken in a city and not a rural area.
     NOTE:  You will need to repeat the Street Name for each person the street encompasses.  DO NOT merge the cells and turn the letters sideways.  The text files that are created from your spreadsheet cannot handle sideways text.
  • HOUSE NUMBER (2)
    Enter what you see, if they have filled this in. The house number was more likely filled in when the census was taken in a city and not a rural area. If the house was in the rear of another one fronting on a street and had no number of its own, the enumerators were instructed to give it the same number as the front house and add the word "rear."
  • NUMBER of HOUSEHOLD VISITED (3)
    Enter these numbers as they change and repeat the appropriate entries for each individual entered. Do not worry if the enumerator skipped numbers or numbered backwards. If the numbers aren't in the correct sequence, please add a comment about it in the Remarks field to indicate that you did not make a mistake with the numbering. Occasionally you will see two or more Family Numbers with the same Dwelling Number. A building like a tenement, apartment house, or hotel counted as only one dwelling house, no matter how many persons or families lived in it. Enter what you see.

    Occasionally a word will be entered in these columns instead of a number. An example would be the word "Jail". If you see something like this, enter the word in the column it appears if it is a small word. Also, at times they may write sideways that this is a boarding house or tavern house, in this case you can enter in the Remarks field, that "boarding house is written in for lines X to X".

    A servant, boarder, or lodger who sleeps in the house or on the premises has the same family number as the members of the family. Repeat the same family number for these people.

HOME DATA (Columns 4-5)
  • HOME OWNED OR RENTED (7)
    Record the entry opposite the name of the head of each family. If the home was owned, the entry was "O" (oh, not a zero); if the home was rented, the entry was "R." Make no entries in this column for the other members of the family.
  • VALUE OF HOME, IF OWNED, OR MONTHLY RENTAL, IF RENTED (8)
    Market value was recorded for owned property and monthly amounts paid were recorded for rental property. Farm values were not record in this colunm. Enter what you see on the line for the head of the family. Make no entries in this column for the other members of the family.
  • DOES THIS FAMILY LIVE ON A FARM? (10)
    A "Yes" or "No" was recorded for every family, except those in a city district. A statement may have been made on the first schedule to the effect that there are no farms in the district, and the column may have then been left blank. Add a Remarks field comment if such a statement appears on the first schedule of the district. A "Yes" does not mean that the family actually farmed the property. It was a question of residence, not of occupation.


LAST NAME (7) and FIRST NAME (7)

The 1940 enumeration recorded the name of every person living on April 1st, 1940, omitting those born after April 1st, 1940.

  • An individual's full name was recorded in one field on the 1940 census, such as: "Doe, John", but you will enter the last name (Doe) in the Last Name field and the first name (John) will be entered into the separate First Name field.
  • The 1940 enumerators were also instructed to draw a horizontal line () when the surname was the same as that of the person on the preceding line. When the enumerator used a drawn line (), "ditto", or ditto marks ( " ), please enter the name that the drawn line or ditto represents.
  • Do not abbreviate a name if the enumerator wrote out the entire name and do not spell out the full name when he abbreviated it. If you see Wm, enter Wm. If you see William, enter William.

  • Do not correct the enumerator's spelling errors. Even if it is your own family and the name is terribly misspelled, enter it exactly as it appears on the census.
  • If a name was abbreviated, and the final letter is a little raised, add an apostrophe in place of the omitted letters in the name.

      Transcription Example:  Thos -  you would enter: Tho's
  • Questionable letters in a name should be indicated by an asterisk * and you may want to put a note in the Remarks field of that line to note that some letters are hard to read or unreadable.

      Transcription Example - LAST-NAME:  D*e     FIRST NAME: Jo*n
  • Titles (ie: Jr., Sr., Dr.) are to be entered at the end of the person's first name(s).

      Transcription Example - LAST-NAME:  Doe     FIRST NAME:  John Sr.
  • Enter NS (no surname) *ONLY* for names such as:
    • Brother Ignatius
    • Sister Mary
    • American Indian Names (Running Doe)
* Look closely for surname drawn lines () or ditto marks before you use NS. See these examples.

RELATIONSHIP TO HEAD OF FAMILY (8)

The word "family", for census purposes, has a somewhat different application from what it has in popular usage. It means a group of persons living together in the same dwelling place. The persons included in this group may or may not be related by ties of kinship, but if they lived together forming one household they were considered as one family.

The head of the family, whether husband or father, widow, or unmarried person of either sex, was identified by the word "head". The other members of a family may have been identified as wife, father, mother, son, daughter, grandson, daughter-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, boarder, lodger, servant, partner etc., according to the person's relationship to the head of the family.

Column 8 was also used to indicate which member of the family was the "home-maker", that is, which one was responsible for the care of the home and family. After the word "wife", "mother", or other term showing the relationship of such person to the head of the family, the letter "H" was added, such as: "Wife-H". Only one person in each family should have received this designation.

Enter exactly what is seen on the census. If nothing is written in, leave the field blank.



  • SEX (9)
    Entered as "M" or "F". If the sex was not recorded or if it is unreadable, enter the letter "U" and add a note in the Remarks field about it being unreadable or not being entered. Occasionally the enumerator recorded the age and sex in the wrong fields. If you run across a record like that, enter them in the correct places and add a note about it in the Remarks field for that individual. If you find a Nancy marked as a male or a William marked as a female, please enter the sex as you see it, but make a note about it in the Remarks field to let others know that you did not make a typo.
    Remarks field example: Sex as recorded by Enumerator.

  • COLOR OR RACE (10)
  • W white
    Neg Negro
    Mex Mexican
    In Indian
    Ch Chinese
    Jp Japanese
    Fil Filipino
    Hin Hindu
    Kor Korean

    The enumerator may have recorded the race of every person, or he may have only recorded the race of persons who were not white. For a person of a race other than what is listed in the table, the race was written in full. If there is no entry, leave it blank.

     

  • AGE (11)
    Enter the age seen. If you cannot read the age or if there is no age listed, enter the letter "U" and add a note in the Remarks field about it not being there or being unreadable. If you find two children with the same age listed, note it in the Remarks field. This is just a "silent" way of saying you didn't make a typo and yes there are two children the same age in this household. BEFORE you type in "twins", are you absolutely sure they are twins and not cousins being raised in the same household because of deceased parents? There are some cases, where it IS noted on the census that the children are twins, and in that case, please add a comment that it is noted as twins on the census.

    The ages for the infants should be entered just as the enumerator wrote them. You might see a fraction, such as 4/12 (representing four months) or maybe a zero (0). Enter the numbers exactly as recorded. If he wrote mos. or months after the number or fraction, then type that same information. If your spreadsheet software insists on converting the fraction ages to a date, simply type an apostrophe ( ' ) immediately before the fraction to force the spreadsheet to treat the following information as text. An example of how to type the fraction when your spreadsheet insists on changing the fraction to a date:   '4/12

  • MARITAL CONDITION (12)
    Enumerators were instructed to write "S" for a single or unmarried person of whatever age, "M" for a married person, "Wd" for widowed (man or woman), and "D" for divorced. Enter exactly what you see.



EDUCATION (Columns 13 & 14)
  • ATTENDED SCHOOL OR COLLEGE ANY TIME SINCE MARCH. 1, 1940.
    (14) Highest grade of school completed
  • WHETHER ABLE TO READ AND WRITE (17)
    "Yes" was entered for all persons 10 years of age or over who could read and write in any language, whether English or some other, and "No" for such persons who could not both read and write in some language. The column was left blank for persons under 10 years of age. Enter what you see.



PLACE OF BIRTH
  • PLACE OF PERSON'S BIRTH (15)
    The enumerator may have used the 2 letter code for a state or he may have written his own abbreviation for a state or place name. If a person was born abroad, but of American parents, both the birthplace and "Am. cit." -that is, American citizen was recorded in the column. For a person born at sea, "At sea" was recorded. You will enter the Place of Birth exactly as the enumerator wrote it. Do NOT correct spelling or abbreviation errors. If the enumerator used the drawn line (), "ditto", or ditto marks ( " ) to repeat the above line entry, please enter the place name that the drawn line or ditto represents. If no birth place was recorded, leave the field blank.
  • CITIZENSHIP:
    Citizenship of the foreign born
  • RESIDENCE: April 1, 1935: (columns 17 - 20)
    In what place did this person live on April 1, 1935?
    The name of the city, town or village was used for places with populations of 2,500 or more. "R" was used for all others. Enter the information exactly as the enumerator wrote it without correction to spelling or abbreviations.
  • Employment Status - Persons 14 years of age and older (columns 21 - 30)
    Enter exactly what you see. This site, Genealogical Early Occupations, might help you to figure out some of those occupations.
  • Income in 1939 (columns 31 - 33)
  • Supplementary Questions (columns 25 - 50)
  •  PLACE OF FATHER'S BIRTH (19) and PLACE OF MOTHER'S BIRTH (20)
    The enumerators used the same instructions in column 15 for columns 36 and 37, except when the person did not know the State or Territory of birth of his father (or mother), but knew that he (or she) was born in the United States, "United States" was entered rather than "unknown."



MOTHER TONGUE (or Native Language) OF FOREIGN BORN (38)
  • What was the first language the individual spoke? Enter what you see.


 


OCCUPATION & INDUSTRY (Columns 25-27)




VETERANS (Columns 39 - 41)
  • WHETHER A VETERAN OF MILITARY, WIFE, WIDOW OR MINOR CHILD OF A VETERAN (Yes or No) (39)
  • IF A CHILD OF A VETERAN IS VETERAN FATHER DECEASED (40)
  • WHAT WAR OR EXPEDITION (41)



  • HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (42)
  • WERE DEDUCTIONS TAKEN FOR FEDERAL OLD AGE INSURANCE or RR RETIREMENT TAKEN FROM THIS PERSON'S WAGE DURING 1939 (43)
  • WHAT PORTION OF WAGES WERE DEDUCTIONS MADE FROM

  • Enter exactly what was written for the 3 columns above



  • OCCUPATION AND INDUSTRY

  • (45) Usual Occupation
    (46) Usual Industry
    (47) Usual Class



  • FOR WOMEN WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN MARRIED

  • (48) Has this woman been married more than once
    (49)Age at first marriage
    (50) Number of children born


Template Tips

The NARA image url column
Enter the url (online image location) on the first line of each page ONLY if using NARA (National Archives & Records Administration) images

The Remarks column
Use the REMARKS column to enter comments about that page, line, or group of lines.  Enter everything on the census that needs to be brought to the attention of a researcher or any other information you feel is important. (ie: any additional writing on the census; if a name is hard to read or unreadable; a disruption in the numbering sequence; etc.) If the comment you want to make is too long for the Remarks field, type your information in a separate file (or worksheet) and reference the page and line number so researchers will know what line you are referring to. When you submit your census transcription to the Census Project, you can include the extra comments file at that same time. If you do not have a Remarks column on your template you have an older template, and should contact your Assignment Coordinator to get the most recent template.

How to Freeze the Template Column Headers
Using Excel, you can freeze the column headings of the first page, and several of the left columns. The frozen areas will remain visible while the entered data scrolls underneath the headers and off the screen. It is much easier to enter the census information when you can see the column header and row name for the line you are entering.

  • To freeze the top horizontal header rows, select the row below where you want the split to occur.

  • To freeze the left vertical columns, select the column to the right of where you want the split to occur.

  • To freeze both the horizontal headers, and the vertical columns click the cell below and to the right of where you want the split to appear. 

  • On the menu-bar, click "Window".
    On the "Window" drop-down menu list, click "Freeze Panes".

  • Later if you want to undo the frozen panes:
    On the menu-bar, click "Window".
    On the "Window" drop-down menu list, click "Unfreeze Panes".

MAKE A BACKUP COPY OFTEN!
You should frequently make a backup copy of your spreadsheet file and save it on a diskette. You can also make a backup copy with a different filename or in a different folder on your hard drive, but if you have a PC failure you could loose both copies if they are on the same hard drive.  If the file gets too big for a diskette, use a ZIP Program to zip it down so that it will fit onto the disk. Better safe than to lose all of your hard work from a computer problem.  If you want an "offsite" backup you can email a copy of your backup file to the same email addresses on the submission form that is at:
http://www.us-census.org/info/chekform.txt
with a request to hold the file for backup purposes.



Transcriber's Comments Text File

You may want to write a transcriber's comments file to be uploaded along with your transcription. You can write it using your word-processor and save it as "text", or use the Notepad program that comes with Windows, or on a spreadsheet. The comments text file could include any unusual things you found on your census, such as:

  • Page numbers out of sequence
  • Mistakes made by Enumerators (such as Dwelling and Family numbers repeated, or omitted)
  • Statistics about your county, number of families, people, occupations, etc.
  • Abnormal state, occupation, or first name abbreviations.
  • or anything else you would like to mention to the researcher

Comments specific to a line, group of lines, or a page can be made in the REMARKS column on the particular page.  General comments about several pages, or the census as a whole should be made in the separate comments file.



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