Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Making a List of Persons Alive in the 1940 US Census

In order to prepare for the 1940 U.S. Census to be released by the National Archives on 2 April 2012, it is a good idea to determine the persons in your database that might be included in the 1940 Census.

Ruth Stephens, on her Ruth's Genealogy blog, in My 1940 Census Wish List, did this yesterday in RootsMagic 5 but didn't show her steps.

Russ Worthington, on his Family Tree Maker Users blog, in Are You Ready for the 1940 Census, did this today in Family Tree Maker 2012 showing all of his steps in the process.

In this post, I'm going to show my steps in the same process using RootsMagic 5. I had a problem, though.  I wasn't smart enough (or the program won't do it...) to figure out how to select a set of persons and then apply the filters.  Ideally, what I want to do is:

1)  Select all of my ancestral families (say back 7 generations) including their collateral lines.

2)  Filter out those that were born before, say, 1840.

3)  Filter out those that died before 1941.

4)  Filter out those that were born after 1940.

I could do the first step using the "Mark Group" filter, but couldn't use the "Unmark Group" to find the ones that satisfied the last three steps.  

The process I eventually used was to consider the entire database and apply steps 2) 3) and 4) to the entire database.

Here are some screen shots for this:

1)  In RootsMagic 5, I went to Reports (top menu line) and selected Custom Reports.  The Custom Report box opened:

On the Custom Report screen (above), I clicked on the "New" button and defined four Custom Report columns - for Name, Spouse Name, Birth Date and Death Date.  

2)  I hit OK, gave the Report a name, and then clicked on the Report name (left-hand column of the Custom Report screen) and in the "People to Include" dropdown menu, chose "Select from list."  

3)  That opened the "Select People" screen, and I clicked on the "Mark Group" list.  

4)  On the dropdown menu, I picked "Select people by data fields":

On the "Search for Information" screen, I created three filters:

*  Birth date is after 1840
*  and Birth date is before 1941
*  and Death date is after 1940

5)  I clicked on the "OK" button and after several seconds saw that I had 1731 people in my database that fit my filter criteria:

6)  After clicking "OK," I then selected "Generate Report" on the "Custom Report" screen and saw my 40 page report:

You may be wondering:

*  Why I added the Spouse's name to the report:  Because females are listed in this report by their maiden name, and I couldn't figure out how to get a married name in 1940 into the report.  The report lists all of the spouses.  An embellishment might be to add the marriage year also.  

*  Are names of persons outside of the USA are included?  They are in my list above.  A filter for "and Birth place contains United States" works, and reduces the list to 1429 persons.  But it then excludes any person not born in the United States.

*  Does the file you created include persons who might be dead in 1940 for whom you don't know the death date?  No, because I specified I had to have a death date after 1940.  I tried changing the death filter to "and death date is blank" and I got 4472 persons.  

*  Does the file you created contain persons who might have died after 1940 for whom you don't have a death date.  No, it doesn't, because I specified I had to have a death date after 1940.  A solution for these last two problems might be to eliminate the death year filter altogether.  That resulted in a file with 8144 persons, including many for whom I have a death date before 1940.  

*  Does your file include persons not related to you?  Yes, it does, because I "collect" families with the Seaver, Carringer, Auble, Vaux, Buck and Dill surnames.  I will need those for my 1940 searches.

One solution for the first search is to create a new RootsMagic file for only the persons I want - the ancestral families and their descendants, say for the past 7 generations.  I could create a database for only descendants of my fourth great-grandparents to solve this.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula here for finding "Who was in the 1940 U.S. Census."  Searches like this make my brain hurt...the software does exactly what you tell it to do - not what you want it to do.  

If readers have suggestions for how to do the first search (mark a group of persons, then unmark using filters) I would love to have them.  

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/02/making-list-of-persons-alive-in-1940-us.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Root Digger said...

Thank you for thinking ahead! I need to get something like Rootsmagic. Looking into it now...

RootsMagic said...


Go to the select screen as before, then:

1) "Mark group", then "Ancestors of highlighted person", then select the ancestors you want

2) Then "Unmark group", then "Select by data fields". On the criteria screen, do:

Birth date > is before > 1840


Birth date > is after > 1940


Death date > is before > 1941

Cousin Russ said...


Thank you for your follow up post. Based on this Blog Post and the comments you made on my blog, I have updated my blog post:



Ruth said...

Hi Randy!

Thanks for mentioning my post. I'm gonna go back and add step-by-step instructions about how I created my list.

Didn't think about doing it yesterday. Another "Duh!" moment!

Ruth Stephens
Ruth's Genealogy

Unknown said...

Randy, my website supports a Census Table (http://ancestorsnow.com/press/news.php?item.53.1) that you or your followers might find very useful for this purpose. It can be setup for any years you like (up to 20). For each person/year is will show where they were found making it easy to know where to look for them in adjacent years, and if not found, if they are missing, or if the year does not apply to them. All census records are also linked. I use it to easily track all my census work.