Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Using the 1940 Census ED Finding Tool

Updated, 3 p.m.:  Corrected my major error shown in purple below, with updates in red.

I spent some time last night, and again this morning, using the 1940 Census Enumeration District (ED)Finding Tool to determine the ED for my ancestral families.  See the press release announcing the tool here.  Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub have spent several years creating this tool, and it is how many of us will find our families in the 1940 census until every-name indexes are available after the images are released.

There are two methods to obtain the Enumeration District of a family in the 1940 census:

1)  "I Have No Clue Where They Lived"

In this method, the user tries to find other resources to help determine the address of the family on 1 April 1940.  The tool makes several suggestions for these resources, including birth certificates, city directories, etc.  If you still don't know, clicking the "Still nothing, sorry" button tells you to wait until the index is released.

Assuming you know an address, or can guess a neighborhood, clicking the "Yes, now I have the location" button takes you to the second method below.

2)  "I Know Where They Were in 1940"

The first question in this section is "Did the family move between 1930 and 1940?" 

If the answer is "No," then you are asked if you have time to search for the ED (which takes you to the "Yes" method eventually) or if you are busy now (and want to take a shortcut by using the 1930 ED information to find the 1940 ED).  I chose the latter, and was asked to find the 1930 census ED.  For my Lyle Carringer family in San Diego, California, I knew that the family resided at 2130 Fern Street and was in ED 120.  116.  Then I used the One Step 1930 to 1940 ED Number Conversion Tool to find the 1940 possible EDs.  The conversion tool told me that the 1940 ED was either 62-140 or 62-141.  62-63A-B, 62-64, 62-65, 62-108.

The other, more time consuming method is to use the known address to find the 1940 ED by answering questions, including the type of community (rural, city, institution), and if the city is in the One Step 1940 Large City ED Finder Tool.  San Diego was, so I selected the State (California), City (San Diego), Street name (Fern), and cross street (Hawthorn) from the dropdown menus provided.  The results showed me three EDs:  62-63A, 62-63B, 62-64.  If I click on the link for each one, then the system will show me a list of streets covered by each ED.  I could also click on a button to see a current map of the location.  By clicking on the ED buttons, I found out that Fern Street north of Hawthorn Street was ED 62-63A or 62-63B, and that Fern Street south of Hawthorn Street was ED 62-64.  Since 2130 Fern Street is north of Hawthorn, I know that it is ED 62-63A or 62-63B (I found no difference in the street listings).

Wait!  That ED does not match the 1930 to 1940 ED Conversion Tool.  Hmmm.  I wonder why?  Which one should I believe?  I think that I should believe the 1940 Large City ED Finder Tool.

Update 3 p.m.:  For some reason, I thought the 1930 ED was 120, not 116.  That resulted in the paragraph above now lined out.  I received several emails from Joel Weintraub and Steve Morse who double checked my work and found my error for me.  I checked the census page, my notes, and my source citation and all say ED 116.  I have no clue why I used ED 120.  A senior moment, I guess!  Thank you to Joel and Steve for catching my error - they sprung into action soon after my post, and had the answer within an hour. 

Now what about the case where I don't know the exact street address, but think I know the town but not the address?  I'm pretty sure that my Seaver grandparents resided on West Street in Leominster, Massachusetts the 1940 time period.  Leominster is not in the Large City ED Finder Tool.  In the 1930 Census, the family resided at 20 Hall Street and is in ED 226, and the 1940 EDs for that street is ED 14-179 or ED 14-180. 

The list of EDs for Leominster is pretty long (25 EDs), but provides boundaries for each ED.  ED 14-179 is described as being "LEOMINSTER CITY WARD 5 BOUNDED BY (N) CITY LIMITS; (E) ABBOTT AV, LINDELL AV, HIGHLAND AV, ABBOTT AV, BLOSSOM; (S) GEORGE, HALE, MERRIAM AV, HALL; (W) WEST; ALSO VILLA IMMACULATA."  ED 14-180 is described as being "LEOMINSTER CITY WARD 5 BOUNDED BY (N) MERRIAM AV, HALE, GEORGE, BLOSSOM, WALNUT; (E) GROVE AV, MERRIAM AV, SCHOOL; (S) WEST; (W) HALL." 

I think that it is probably ED 14-180 because the ED is bounded on the south by West Street.  A look at a current map of Leominster will probably help me identify the best ED candidates.

Navigation in the 1940 Census ED Finder tool is best done by using the "Go back" button.  Using your browser's back button takes you out of the tool entirely.

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(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website (other than through an RSS feed), then they have stolen my work.

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