The 1940 census is the only U.S. Federal population census for which the researcher can be absolutely certain who answered the enumerator's questions in every household. This can be useful in evaluating the quality and accuracy of the information. Did the person giving the information know what they were talking about? Are the ages, birthplaces, and other data comparable to information found in other records?
Question 7 on the 1940 census population schedule – "Name" – asked for the "Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household." It also directed that "Ab" be written after the names of any person temporarily absent from the household and to record any child under the age of one as "infant" if it had not been given a name. Finally, it directed the enumerator to "Enter (X in a circle) after name of person furnishing information." This image shows the "Name" instruction block which is at the top of each census page:
It was typical for the enumerators to mark the "X in a circle" after the name of only one person in each household, such as seen in this detail from the first page written by Florence Irene Bock, enumerator for Enumeration District 28-19, Russell Township, Geauga County, Ohio:
In contrast, Norman G. Wendt, enumerator for Enumeration District 28-7, Chester Township, Geauga County, Ohio, frequently marked the X in a circle after the names of multiple people in the households he visited, especially where there were lodgers or in-laws. Her is a detail from the first page of his enumeration:
The 1940 Federal Population Census can be found online in the National Archives Catalog at "Population Schedules for the 1940 Census" at and on websites such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. Happy hunting!
This post is the first of a series of blog posts about U.S. Federal census records. I hope you find it useful.