1940 Census comes to life!

The 1940 U.S. Federal Census was conducted based on a census date of April 1, 1940. Given the seventy-two year privacy restriction, family historians will need to wait until April 2, 2012 before they can inspect schedules from the sixteenth census of the United States. The census counted a total of nearly 132.2 million people living in 48 states.



Here’s an article from ABCNews highlighting the upcoming release of the 1940 census:

Snapshot of a Decade

By Lawrence Lai

The decade preceding the United States’ entry into World War II was a time of economic hardship that touched the lives of a great many Americans. Soon, the intimate details of 132 million people who lived through the Great Depression will be disclosed when the U.S. government releases the 1940 census to the public on April 2.

gty migrant mother ll 120320 vblog Snapshot of a Decade

Migrant Mother ● Florence Owens Thompson, 32, and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, Calif. They were living destitute in a pea-pickers camp because of the failure of the early pea crop. (Dorothea Lange)


ap 1940 census poster ll 120319 vblog Snapshot of a Decade

A poster for the 1940 Census is shown. Veiled in secrecy for 72 years because of privacy protections, the 1940 U.S. Census is the first historical federal decennial survey to be made available on the Internet initially rather than on microfilm. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division/AP Photo)

Scholars hope the massive trove of information will provide a snapshot of the lives of millions of Americans as they struggled with homelessness, migration and widespread unemployment.

gty the american way ll 120320 wblog Snapshot of a Decade

Louisville Flood Victims ● African-American flood victims line up to get food and clothing from a Red Cross relief station in front of billboard ironically extolling The American Way in January 1937. (Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


ap dinner line ll 120320 vblog Snapshot of a Decade

A long line of jobless and homeless men wait outside New York’s municipal lodging house for a free dinner in this 1932 photo. (AP Photo)

The release of the records will be a “great contribution to American society” according to Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates. “It’s such a rare gift, especially for people who believe that establishing their family trees is important for understanding their relationship to American democracy, the history of our country, and to a larger sense of themselves.”

ht dust bowl ll 120320 wblog Snapshot of a Decade

Dust Bowl – Dallas, South Dakota, 1936 Farming equipment is shown buried by dirt in a barn lot in Dallas, S.D., in this May 1936 photo. A severe period of drought and dust storms added to the hardship of Great Plains residents during the Depression. Millions of acres of farmland became unusable, forcing dispossessed families to migrate west to California in search of work. (United States Department of Agriculture)


gty shadow men ll 120320 wblog Snapshot of a Decade

Shadows of men waiting on a bread line are cast on a wall in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1930. (Paul Briol/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)

In January, about three dozen people gathered in Manhattan for a meeting of the MetroNY Genealogy & Computers Special Interest Group to discuss the census. They included Michelle Novak, who has spent six years searching for information about her paternal grandfather, but has no street address to help locate him.

Novak, 43, said family members recalled him as a heavy drinker who worked long hours for the Pennsylvania Railroad and abandoned his family in the early 1930s.

But the few records she has been able to find include a signature in a railroad pension book. She believes the 1940 census might hold additional answers.

“If I can find one record, anything, it may help,” she said in an email after the meeting. “Even if I find him in jail or deceased, at least I will have an answer.”



Lost Titanic tale resurfaces

Lost Titanic tale resurfaces


 A survivor’s account of the sinking of the Titanic has been rediscovered after having been lost for decades and will be published next month ahead of the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

John B. “Jack” Thayer, who boarded the ship at age 17 with his parents, printed his recollections of the catastrophe as a family record in 1940 and made just 500 copies.

The tome was recently unearthed by Lorin Stein, editor of the Paris Review, who recalled a family tie he had to the Titanic after Luke Pontifell, who runs handmade-book publisher Thornwillow Press, said he wished he could track down documents from the ship.

 “Suddenly, I half-remembered that a distant cousin of mine had written an eyewitness account and had given my great-grandfather a copy,” Stein said. “My mother found the book in my grandfather’s library when he died.”

In the pages, Thayer recalls boarding in Southampton as a first-class passenger. As the ship sank 800 miles off New York on April 14, 1912, he was separated from his parents but assumed they had made it into a lifeboat. He describes how he jumped: “The shock of the water took the breath out of my lungs. Down and down I went, spinning in all directions.”

Thayer clung to an overturned lifeboat as he watched the Titanic go down. “Suddenly the whole superstructure . . . appeared to split . . . and blow and buckle upwards,” he wrote.

“We could see groups of the almost 1,500 people still aboard, clinging in clusters of bunches like swarming bees; only to fall in masses, pairs or singly, as the great after-part of the ship, 250 feet of it, rose into the sky, till it reached a 65- or 70-degree angle.”

Thayer was rescued by a lifeboat. His mother survived, but his father perished.

Thornwillow is hosting a dinner April 4 at the St. Regis Hotel, where it has a library. The hotel was built by John Jacob Astor, who died on the Titanic. The imprint is making 5,000 copies of the book with a foreword by Stein.

World War II bomb weighing 1 ton discovered at French port

World War II bomb weighing 1 ton discovered at French port

MARSEILLE, France –  Officials in Marseille are evacuating an area around the French Mediterranean city’s port so they can remove a 1-ton German bomb that dates to World War II.

Around 1,000 people have been asked to clear out Sunday. Boat traffic has been halted and access to several coastal roads blocked. The bomb will be taken to a military base to be detonated.

It was discovered a week ago by construction workers who accidentally pierced the explosive with their back hoe.

The regional government says the bomb’s ignition system no longer works but the sheer amount of explosives — 1,400 pounds (650 kilograms) — made it dangerous.

The bomb was apparently buried by German soldiers, who had planned to destroy the city’s port, as they retreated near the end of the war.

A Plague Upon Us . . .Got Virus?

Computer bugs have a history. . .

1962 NASA destroys Mariner 1 over the Atlantic Ocean after a software bug steers the rocket off course.

1985-87 A software bug in the Therac-25 medical accelerator delivers lethal doses of radiation to 6 cancer patients.

1986 The first PC virus, “Brain,” is launched.

1990 The “Melissa” virus, spread through e-mail, causes $80 million in damages worldwide.

2000 The “I Love You” virus causes $15 billion in damages.

IN 2009:

  • 25 million new strains of malware are identified – the most in a single year – bringing the total of known threats to 40 million.
  • 50% of U.S. computers are infected.
  • $100 million is spent by the Pentagon to fix 6 months’ worth of malware problems.


Source: American History magazine, February 2011

Kids relive history with FREE role-playing game



Kids relive history with free role-playing game

Mission US is a multimedia project that immerses players in U.S. history content through free interactive games.

Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. They encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie. 

In Mission 2: “Flight to Freedom,” players take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky.  As they navigate her escape and journey  to Ohio, they discover that life in the “free” North is dangerous and difficult. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act brings disaster. Will Lucy ever truly be free?

Other missions are planned for release in 2013 and 2014.