My 1940 Census Search Experience; Don’t Forget To Check The End Of The 1940 Census Page To See If Your Ancestors Were Included In The “Supplemental” Questions; Leave Comments On Your Own Experience

Hi Everyone!

I have had very good luck in finding my grandfather’s census image from the 1940 Census in Chicago, IL.

I was able to convert the known street address to the Enumeration District at the Steve Morse website at:

Unified 1940 Census Enumeration District (ED) Finder

It is important to enter into the Steve Morse ED Finder not only the street address of interest but the cross-streets that intersect the location so it can calculate for you the one ED to look at rather than giving you multiple ED locations.

I then went over to the National Archives Census website where I could input the ED information into the search field provided by the National Archives.  You can get to the National Archives (NARA) website at:

National Archives 1940 Census Official 1940 Census Site

You enter in the state you are looking for and the ED for the state.

It did not take too long, but very shortly the ED was found.  It was a 28 image file of the total pages for the ED.  I found my grandfather’s information on Page 4 of the 28 images.  I felt lucky with this because you cannot enter in a specific page of the multi-page set of images and see if you can find something faster.  You have to go page-by-page until you find what you seek.

Remember Murphy’s Law — if you have a 28 page set of images, the one that applies to you is going to be number 28! (Thank goodness for me that was not the case.)

I did discover two interesting points — my grandfather stated he had a 4th grade education and that my father was not living in the house (or could he have been omitted??) at the time of the census.  I was surprised at that and now will need to wait until the indexing is completed to find him.

I do want to remind everyone that the 1940 Census has 2 lines at the bottom of the page in which pre-set selected line numbers of those responding were then asked to respond to additional questions.  My suggestion is to look at the posting I made the other day on the 1940 Census Template and download the form to see what these supplemental questions were.  You can see that posting at:

Your ancestor may have been one of the lucky ones selected for this added information.  You have to scroll all the way down the image to discover this.  Don’t get too excited about finding your ancestral information higher up in the page and then forget to check out the “supplemental” questions.

None of the members of my grandfather’s household fell into this “supplemental” questioning.


Darn it!

All in all, I am very happy with the fairly easy effort I had to expend today to find my grandfather’s information.  I think NARA responded quite well to the system crashes they were experiencing yesterday on the first day of the release.  It was not too painfully long today to find what I did.

Be patient as the system processing gets better as the initial surge of those searching dissipates somewhat over the next few weeks.

I wish all of you as much luck as I seemed to have in finding the information for my grandfather.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

6 responses to “My 1940 Census Search Experience; Don’t Forget To Check The End Of The 1940 Census Page To See If Your Ancestors Were Included In The “Supplemental” Questions; Leave Comments On Your Own Experience

  1. I’m 2 for 2 finding Chicago ancestors in the 1940 census using OneStep @
    I had found the ED’s a couple of weeks ago and this morning copied the pages. I started out using Google Chrome, which is my default browser, but it was slow. I then switched to Internet Explorer and found it to be much quicker. Don’t know if that truly made a difference or if I just caught a break in the queue.

    • Hi Rose,

      I also discovered that the process seems faster using Internet Explorer. I was using FireFox as a start and discovered I was getting an error message on some conflict with a PlugIn.

      I moved over to Internet Explorer and found it faster and with no problems to access the images and download the image.

      I did notice though that I was not able to print the image in Internet Explorer using their “Print” link. I need to revisit that function.

      All in all, I am happy with what I have discovered so far.

      Thanks for your comments and congratulations on your discoveries.

      Tony Kierna
      Genealogy Coordinator
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  2. Carolyn McCLure

    Thanks for the hints! I found my grandfather and his household, which included my grandmother, father, mother, aunt, uncle and cousin by using the 1930 enumerator. Fortunately, they lived at the same address 10 years later. My father was asked the supp. questions but they weren’t that exciting. Yes, he had a social security number and was not a veteran. More interesting was that he worked 26 weeks in 1939 as a “tabulator” and earned $520 ! I managed to print the page but the resolution is blurry and I couldn’t expand the page to make the text larger. I am happy just to have found info on the screen though!

  3. US Illinois 1940 Federal Census available for indexing – I see Logan County

  4. I have not been successful downloading the census so I have been using PowerPoint as an interim step to obtain copies, both electronic and print. Viewing the census image, right click, select copy image, then paste into PowerPoint; Viewing the image in PowerPoint, right click, select save as picture, you should be able to choose from GIF, JPEG, PNG, or TIFF, you can resize, crop, rename, print, etc., to save in any folder as a picture.

  5. The official NARA site for the 1940 Census has a couple of really nifty functions. Once you link to the ED’s census images, at the top of the page to the left of the “PREV” button is a “download” link. When you click that link you’re given a choice of whether you want standard or high definition, and whether you want to download just the image you are currently on or the entire set of images for that ED. Since many of my relatives lived in the same ED but in different “neighborhoods”, I could find all of them at once instead having to page through them all online and download them one by one.

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