Find of the ‘40

The 1940 census was taken on 1 April (and the two weeks or so following).  By law, it was to remain confidential for 72 years.  It was released to the public on 1 April, 2012.  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are two of the major genealogy organizations that bought copies of the images.  It took them a short time to get all the images up.  At that point, the images could only be browsed, going page by page, looking for the names of interest. That worked for me if I knew the person’s address, but wasn’t useful if I didn’t know where the family lived in 1940. The images had to be indexed, meaning someone had to go page by page, line by line, extracting the names and other information so that the images could be searched by name.  As each state was completed, the websites were updated.  FamilySearch used volunteers, and did the states in a different order than Ancestry, so if the state wasn’t available on one website, it might have been available on the other.  Both sites now are reporting 100% completion of the indexing.  I have found errors, of course, in the spellings of the names.  I always send in corrections to Ancestry, (FamilySearch doesn’t have that function) so the next person searching will be more likely to find that name.  If I cannot find the person on one site, I find it pays to check the other.

The person I most wanted to find in the 1940 census was Marcel Labor /Marshall Laber, born in 1865.  No one seems to know when or where he died.  I found him in the 1930 census in Lexington, MA.  A grandson remembered his father receiving word that Marshall had died, and guessed it might have happened about 1940 or 1941. 

I was able to find him in the 1932 Lexington city directory.  In the 1933 Arlington MA directory, he was listed as living at 71 Mystic, employed as a dynamite blaster.  Mrs. Marie Kenny also lived with him, the same housekeeper he had as early as 1920. The 1934 and 1935 Arlington directories had the same entries.  But I didn’t have access to later directories. So the question was:  Would Marshall be found in the 1940 census?

Massachusetts was one of the last states to be indexed, but when it was, Marshall’s was the first name I looked for.  And there he was, now living at 132 Sylvia Street, in Arlington, with the same housekeeper.  His occupation was driller and blaster, employed by the town.  His age was recorded as 67, but he was really 75.  I still don’t know when or where he died, but probably in Arlington, and definitely after April 1, 1940.

I’m always happy to find a person lived longer than I thought.  That was especially true this weekend, when I found that my Aunt Bea was recorded in a family tree on Ancestry as having died in 1988.  She was at the family reunion this weekend.  She’s looking remarkably well for someone supposedly dead for a quarter of a century!  But that’s another story.

 

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