With enumeration district 51-1884 in hand, I went searching the 1940 census for my Todds. They were easy to find, showing up on the fourth image. Living with John and Olivia Todd were their son, John A. Todd, Jr. and their daughter Elizabeth Campbell, as well as Elizabeth’s daughter, Honor. I still don’t know who Mr. Campbell was. I had guessed she had been married to a Campbell from her SS-5, but have yet to find him. Great Aunt Bessie later married a Mr. Tilsner.
Emboldened by my success, I sat down to figure out where my Conrads might be in 1940. At first I was not sure, but then I remembered I had two documents that could help: my grandfather’s SS-5 from 1937 and his father’s death certificate from 1942. I knew from my father, born in 1937, that he had lived with his grandfather as a young child. I was in luck. Both listed the address of 2069 Clarence Street.
Off to Google maps, where I found something interesting. The Conrads lived right around the corner from the Todds:
Now this isn’t unusual by any means, but it was interesting that I had not stumbled across this fact until now.
Another family found and I did not even need to figure out the enumeration district. Three images beyond the Todds, were the Conrads: Edward and Susan Conrad (John A. Todd’s son-in-law and daughter), their children Doris and Charles, and Edward’s father, Nicholas.
There are two improvements in my mind in 1940 for the census. One is the legibility factor. While I have still come across some poor handwriting, for the most part the letters are crafted in ways that are decipherable to me. We have finally reached modern style handwriting in full. The second is the x with a circle around it to indicate who answered the questions. This is a big help in determining how much credence we should put in those answers. Neighbor Bob might not be as reliable a source on the Smiths as Mrs. Smith would be.
Still, misinformation appears. My great-grandfather was born in Scotland. This is a well-known fact in the family. I was told this as a young child. Every census prior to this one listed his birthplace as Scotland. Certainly his daughter, who answered the questions according to the notation beside her name, knew this. And yet, this is what was recorded by the census taker:
The census provides loads of information and clues, but is by no means a stopping point in research. Reliability is not its strong suit.
This is the first in a series about my preparations for the release of the 1940 census on April 2, 2012.
With no index available at release date, the 1940 census presents some challenges for the genealogist. My great-grandparents, the Todds, will hopefully be the easiest of my ancestors to find. I have an exact street address for them and there is a high likelihood that they were living at that address in 1940.
John A. and Olivia R. Todd were living at 2075 E Tioga street in Philadelphia in 1930 according to the census of that year. They were also living there in 1920.
In 1942, John A. Todd, Jr. lists his mother as the “person who will always know your address” on his draft registration card for World War II. She is still at 2075 E. Tioga street.
With an exact address, how do I narrow down my search to one or two enumeration districts for the 1940 census?
Steve Morse has a tool for Obtaining EDs for the 1940 census in one step (Large Cities). Â First, I select the state, city and street. That leads to over 40 enumeration districts. I must add cross streets to narrow it down, but I am not that familiar with Philadelphia, so I head over to google maps:
I add Frankford and Amber and narrow it down to two enumeration districts: 51-1881 and 51-1884. If I add Atlantic, only one enumeration district is returned: 51-1884. I’ve decided to start with that one and if I can’t find them I’ll search for them in the other as well. Further research on their children revealed their eldest, Frank A. Todd, should be in ED 51-1881 so I will be searching that one anyway.
With an exact address and a helpful tool on the internet I was able to narrow my search from a city as large as Philadelphia to a single enumeration district. My other ancestors won’t be as easy and I will detail my preparations for a few of those in later posts.