Friday, November 13, 2020

How to find someone in the 1940 Census

I posted this on Facebook in April 2012, not long after the 1940 Census was released. I rediscovered this post in November 2020 and figured I'd post it here since it's not doing any good there.

The 1940 Census is out at, released (as by law) 72 years after it was taken. Unfortunately it's not indexed by name yet, so if you want to find your relatives you have to know their address on April 1, 1940. I've found both of my dad's parents so far, one in New York and one in Bennington VT (my grandfather was 28 and my grandmother was 24, and both were living at home with their parents until they got married just 4 months later - amusing in retrospect). There's a bit of a learning curve til you get used to how they organize their data.

Four easy steps on finding people:

1. Use Google Maps to pinpoint the address to a specific block between streets. I found that 1349 Grant Ave in the Bronx is between 169th and 170th. It'll also show you what the property looks like today.

2. Use the "search by location" radio button and then "browse" tab. Enter the state, county, city, and street via pull-down menu (sometimes you can enter a nearby cross-street). Using Grant Ave as an example, there are 17 possible Enumeration Districts (EDs) that Grant runs through, so now we have to narrow it down.

3. Use the Descriptions option to read the pages that tell which streets and blocks are in which ED. Click the "View Description" link to get to the pages. In my case, I found it on the third set, one of the pages says that ED 3-210B includes the block bounded by 169th, Grant, 170th, and Sheridan.

4. Then it's just a matter of going to that ED (click on the 3-210B link) and then go to the "Census Schedules" link for that ED. You've got to look at every page of listings (10-40 pages) until you find them. I found that it's easier to download the whole set rather than look using their viewer, but that's my preference.

Once you find them, there's some interesting data, but not a whole lot. You can find out who was living there, their ages, where they were born (state or foreign country), how much education each had, what their jobs were, how many hours a week they worked there, and how much money they made in the last year.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Rockies Road Trip, 1952

In July or August 1952, after dropping my dad off at summer camp, my grandparents decided to take a road trip out west from Pittsburgh. Either they didn't take any pictures between Pittsburgh and Mt Rushmore, or the photos don't exist any more, but in any case, here's their 1952 Rockies Road Trip.

From Pittsburgh, they would have driven west to Chicago and then probably up to Wisconsin and then west through Minnesota and South Dakota. Remember, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 that established the Interstate Highway System wasn't around yet, and so you'd have to take highways with stoplights that passed through all sorts of small towns at the time. 

Here's the likely map, or as close as I could make it given that these pathways are significantly improved as interstates now, and with a best guess as to the path based on what locations are in the photos. Instead of Yellowstone to Sequoia via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, for example, they could have traversed Idaho and Nevada and gone through Reno, Sacramento, and Fresno. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Paris, 1904 & 2019: The Last Resting Place of Beryl Grabois

My father's father's father's father was named Beryl Grabois (Bernard, in French and English; last name in Cyrillic was ГРАБОИС, which would have been pronounced GRAH-BOYCE). He came from a town about 50 miles northwest of what is now Kishinev, Moldova, called Faleshti (in various languages or transliterations Фэлешть/Făleşti [Romanian], פֿאַלעשט/Faleshti [Yiddish], Фолешты/Foleshty [Russian], Falesht', Feleshti, Faleshty [English]) but back then was part of greater Bessarabia, and he and his family decided that with the pogroms in Kishinev and in greater Russia against the Jews, it was time to leave. This would have been circa 1900 but maybe even as late as 1903, which was the first Kishinev pogrom. So he left with his two brothers, Morris and Abraham (aka Avram or Avroum) - but not a sister, whose name we don't know - and made their way west. They stopped in Paris for a few years.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

New York City, 1979

The United Nations, Rockerfeller Plaza, and the view from Top of The Rock, summer 1979

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Pittsburgh, 1977 & 2016

The Pittsburgh skyline, 1977 and 2016, from atop Mount Washington. 

Rockies and Great Plains roadtrip, 2015 part 6: Mt Rushmore to Denver


TL;DR - See Mt Rushmore and then drive south through Nebraska to catch a flight in Denver.

Theme songs:
  • "Mountain Town" (South Park)
  • "Get Out of Denver" (Bob Seger)
Weather: sunny all day

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rockies and Great Plains roadtrip, 2015 part 5: Deadwood to Mt Rushmore


TL;DR - South Dakota all day. Deadwood in the daytime, then drive through the Black Hills out to Badlands National Park in late afternoon and sunset, spend the night in Keystone, near Mt Rushmore.

Theme songs:
  • "Rocky Raccoon" (The Beatles)
  • "Badlands" (Bruce Springsteen)
Weather: high 79, low 54

How to find someone in the 1940 Census

I posted this on Facebook in April 2012, not long after the 1940 Census was released. I rediscovered this post in November 2020 and figured ...