The National Archives has released long-awaited raw data from the 1940 census, providing a snapshot of America at that time. What do the numbers tell us about life in the Bay Area in 1940? How have things changed?

The National Archives video introduction to the 1940 census:

Marcy Goldstein, director of the National Archives at San Francisco, based in San Bruno
Kevin Starr, professor of history at the University of Southern California and author of "Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge"
Charles Fracchia, founder and president emeritus of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and author of five books on San Francisco history, including "When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush"
Nicka Smith, outreach and education chair of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California
Michael Nolan, San Francisco resident and geneologist who has used the newly released 1940 census data to research his street in the Bernal Heights neighborhood

  • Nini

    How far back to these National Archives date? If I wanted to find out records of my immigrant great grandfather entering via Angel Island, would I be able to do that?

  • Tasterspoon

    I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation about the Bay Area, but I did want to encourage your listeners to check out the census first hand.  I’ve never been all that into genaeology, but both my parents were born in 1940 so I found both their families in the midwest last night and have already been trading stories with them.  My father learned (for the first time) that his grandmother, who lived with them, had been married previously and had one more child than he knew about!  He, in turn, started telling me all about his childhood bedroom.  It’s really a lot of fun.
    I found them by using the website of stevemorse.org, which is free, and walks you through the process, but it’s true I had to work through probably 60 pages before I found them both.  But even that was interesting, because I kept running across familiar names. 

  • guest

    How can I find out who was living in my house from the census? I cannot see any data on the street numbers. Has the street numbers changed from the 1940s until today?

  • John p

    You can see San Francisco as it looked in 1938 on Google Earth. Not 1940, but close.

  • If you have an ancestor story that you would like to share, visit Alley Cat Books@ 3036 24th St. SF, CA, from 5-7pm this Saturday to have your story recorded by The Great-Grandfather Club (greatgrandfatherclub.com). For more information contact us at greatgrandfatherclub@gmail.com

  • Eileen

    I live in the Portala neighborhood. My 75 year old grandmother grew up in the house. His father made most of the iron grill work in the neighborhood. My landlord said this was an Italian Jewish Maltese neighborhood.
    This neighborhood still has a block of old collasping greenhouses from the time when this neighborhood was where the flowers for the flower market were grown 

  • Gerald Fnord

    The ‘440’ later was known as “Ann’s  440”, and was where Lenny Bruce started becoming half-decent at obscenity.

  • Ann

    San Francisco was a wonderful place to grow up in the 40’s, As a 10 year old I could ride the bus and streetcar to without any fear. Kids played outside & neighbors knew each other. Attending the World’s Fair was one of them highlights of my life. I recall seeing the future Queen of England, her sister and her parents at the Treasure Island Fair.

  • Fairfax homes still have the fruit trees planted by immigrants in their back yards; really interested in diving into it all myself.

  • Rgd.

    My my Nolan living in an old house, whose original or earlier owner was a Locksmith? Who built the house? Who put in the locks? And the bay windows only skilled craftsman from Italy or Slovakia could. Three cheers for Nolan’s house and for Nolan the genie, oops the genealogist, not a gyno a geneo..

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