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Kimberly Powell

Found Granddad in the 1940 Census!

By April 2, 2012

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While preparing a few weeks ago for today's release of the 1940 U.S. Census, I wrote about about my grandfather, Walter Henry Thomas--the man I most wanted to find in the 1940 census. It was a period of transition for Granddad, living in the "big city" of Pittsburgh for a few years on his own, between his childhood growing up in the coal country of Cambia County, PA, and his enlistment in the Marine Corps and move to Parris Island, South Carolina.

Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County, PA, ED 2-615, sheet 14A

Wonder of wonders, I did find him today. Took a bit of patience with the extraordinary traffic loads on NARA's 1940 Census website (22.5 million in 4 hours), and he was near the end of the batch of images in his particular enumeration district (ED). But, honestly, everything overall went better than expected. My 22-year-old future grandfather was living right where my pre-census research had told me he was most likely to be living--at 606 Center St in the Allegheny County borough of Wilkingsburg, near Pittsburgh. He listed his full name (Walter Henry Thomas), was single (two years later he had enlisted in the Marines, was living in Beaufort, SC, and married to my grandmother), and working as a doorman at a local theatre. He stated he was living in Glasgow, Cambria, Pennsylvania, in 1935, right where I would have expected him to still be living with his parents. He had worked 43 hours in the previous week (he always was a hard worker), completed 1 year of high school, and earned $770 in 1939.

Of course, he was enumerated on line 16...just missing the supplemental questions asked of the individual on line 14. Drat!

Who Will You Look for First in the 1940 Census?
How to Find Granddad in the 1940 U.S. Census

April 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm
(1) loading...... says:

Glad you got on the website and was able to view. I’ve been waiting for 4 hours+ to get images to load. Obvious problem, which should have been anticipated. Sheez.

April 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm
(2) ~Kimberly says:

I’m sure it was anticipated. But as often happens it is hard to prepare for 22.5 million hits in 4 hours. If your page sits on loading… or has the little twirling symbol for more than a few minutes, then refresh the page and try again. If you make it as far as the screen that says “preparing your image” then select the download option in the right-hand corner of the screen and download the images for offline viewing. Don’t try to download high-res images for now – the standard ones are legible enough to read well. Hope this helps!

April 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(3) ~Kimberly says:

Of course if I had been patient for less than an hour longer, I would have been able to find him on Ancestry.com, which has now added Pennsylvania (including Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County), along with New York, Virginia and several additional states. Browsing is super FAST and free. I can’t believe how fast they are getting them online!

April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm
(4) Mary says:

How did you get through to NARA? I’ve been trying since 9:00 a.m. I don’t get past “loading”. Ancestry has 3 New York counties, but not mine. I
I have to be patient!!

April 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm
(5) Bonnie says:

I have gotten to the loading page several times, but it will not download; so that didn’t work either.

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