1940 U.S. Census Data Released!

Posted on April 3, 2012


America in the midst of the Great Depression and the brink of World War II- this was 1940. Whatever we didn’t remember from this year is now known; as of April 2, 2012, its Census data has been released.


Every 10 years, the Census Bureau takes a snap shot of life in our nation. Each decade we take record of our population size and our living and working conditions. We’ve been doing it since 1790, now it’s the largest and most sophisticated national count in the world. Mandated by our founders, the United States Census is enshrined in our Constitution.


While collective results have been released immediately every decade, the little details that were so diligently documented, like names and addresses, have been kept strictly confidential for 72 years. As of Monday, these details were finally made public.

Beside respondents’ birthplace, citizenship status, occupation and race, for the first time in history surveyors asked about wages and income, housing (i.e. home value and mortgage or rent paid), and a measurement of transients. The survey even collected data on employment status, education, military service, and which homes had radios and flushing toilets.


More than 120,000 men and women called enmuerators, visited homes, interviewed residents, and recorded their information in a portfolio-sized book. The Census Bureau used 175,000 maps as guides for their enumerators, ensuring that they could personally visit every house, building, cabin, tent, crawl space, or any other thing that people might be living in. The information was then taken and tabulated onto punch cards using electronic equipment similar to that of a type writer

Newspapers and radios would then share the news of the final 1940 Census results, reporting that 132.3 million people lived in theUSat that time. 70 years later, the 2010 Census found that 308.7 million people lived in the country. Like the records of 1940, 2010’s detailed information will remain confidential until 2082.


Changes in America from 1940 to now


The US is aging. The median age in 1940 was 29 years, in 2010 it was 37.2.


The population is changing. Then, of the 131.6 million people, 89.8 were white, 9.8 were black, and the rest counted as “other”. In 2010, of the 308.7 million, whites dropped to 72.4 percent, blacks rose to 12.6 percent, Hispanics were 16.3 percent, and Asians made up 4.8 percent.


Education has increased. In 1940, 24.5 percent of Americans had at least a high school education, and 4.6 percent had a college degree. In 2010, 85.6 percent had graduated high school and 28.2 percent had completed at least four years of college.


Americans are single longer. In 1940, 11.6 percent of women 19 or younger were already married and 68 percent between 20 and 34 were married. In 2010, only 1.6 percent of women 19 or younger were already married, and by the age of 34, 55.6 percent had never married. Men are waiting too, with 65..6 percent never married by age 34 in 2010, compared to 43.9 percent in 1940.

There’s a lot of fun and interesting ways you can use this data, especially for maps. MarketMAPS prides itself on the ability to utilize Census data with accurate geography in order to create attractive and effective visual displays. If you’re interested in utilizing 1940’s Census data, our design team can provide you with the custom map that you’ve been waiting for.


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