Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Checking Out's New "Deep Dive" Feature in the 1940 U.S. Census

 I recently received access to the new feature for "Deep Dive tour" for the 1940 United States Census.  Here is a quick look at this feature for my father in the 1940 U.S. census:

Here is the record summary for one of the two census entries for my father, Frederick W. Seaver.  In this record, he is age 28 in Leominster, Massachusetts, indexed as Frederick W. Lawon by the Ancestry indexers (I added an alternate name 9 years ago):   

The light-blue box at the top of the page notes "There's more to discover in this record.  Dive deeper into the life of Frederick W. Lawon in 1940.  Start tour"

I clicked the "Start tour" link and was presented with a series of 12 pages that highlighted information in this particular census record.  For instance, the first one is a summary of the census record:

The box says "This is a 1940 U.S. Federal Census document about Frederick.  Let's find out if this record matches the Frederick in your tree."  

Clicking on "Next" takes me to the second screen:

The box says "We will walk you through the information in this document so that you can decide if this matches the Frederick in your tree and to determine what it tells you about their story."

Clicking "Next" takes me to the third screen:

The street address for this household is highlighted, and the box says "Address: Frederick lived at 918 Main Street in Leominster, Massachusetts.  [Street view link].  Leominster was a town with a population of 22,226."

Clicking "Next" takes me to the fourth screen:

The home ownership and value entries for the head of household was highlighted, and the box says: "Home Ownership:  The 'O' indicates that Frederick's brother-in-law owned this home and it was valued at $6,800 ($129,200 in today's dollars)."

Clicking "Next," the fifth screen is:

The names and relationships of the household members were highlighted and the box says: "Household: These are the household members as recorded by the census taker.  You can tell that Ruth S. answered the census questions because there is a circled 'X' next to her name."

The next few screens show:

*  Ages of the household members

*  Education of household members

*  Birthplaces

*  Occupation [the dive didn't list the actual occupation, just the place where he worked.  My father was listed as a "Loan bant comp" (Loan bank company?) and the occupation was highlighted as an "Investigator" but not listed in the text note.]

*  Hours worked

*  Income, highlighting number of weeks worked and the yearly earnings in 1939

The last screen is:

The name of my father is highlighted and the box says "Do you want to save this record to someone in your tree?" with "Yes" or "No" as the choices.

If I click "Yes" then I can choose my father from my Ancestry Member Tree, or start a new person in a tree. If I choose to add a new person, a form is shown with pre-filled name, birth year and birth state:

It added the person to my active Ancestry Member Tree. 

I don't know how extensive this feature will be in the future.  I thought I heard that it would be applied to the 1911 England and Wales census and the 1921 Canada census but I haven't seen those yet.  It could be applied to other census records and to more record collections that supply personal and family information (e.g., other census years, the Social Security Applications and Claims Index (which has no related image), the World War I and II draft registrations cards, etc.).

Is it useful for genealogists and family historians?  Seasoned researchers know how to search for and to find all of those items from the 1940 U.S. Census, but many novice researchers may appreciate the help provided - they still have to do a search.  The feature doesn't waste my time if I don't click on the "Start Tour" link.  So I think it can be useful.

I have no idea if all Ancestry subscribers have this feature, or if I'm one of the "lucky" ones.  


Disclosure: I have a complimentary all-access subscription from, for which I am thankful. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

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Tess said...

I'm not getting it yet. Had hoped to be able to demo it to some of my genealogy patrons (I'm a librarian). I wonder if they'll make it available in the Library Edition as well...

Susie Q said...

I searched and got a relative whose name was the same as a son so it took me a bit to click. The page was a great one as clear and wonderful penmanship!!! Thanks for pointing this out - will dive deep when I see it again.

Leah said...

So cool -- there was a link to a Google map and I was able to see the actual building where my grandmother lived in the Bronx. "lived on East-178 Street in NY Street View". the census has street number, so I was able to navigate to the address on the map. This really made my family's history real for me. One gets to the deep dive tour through the "View Record" link (not the "View Image" link).