Impossible? Not in the world of genealogy. Ancestry.com has been diligently indexing the names on the 1940 US Census records; millions now fully searchable. And my state, Oklahoma, has been completed.
Unexpectedly faced with the 1940 US Census of both my parents, I swiftly magnified each, skimming along as I read of my parents, grandparents and great-grandmother.
Neither census revealed features unknown to my family history except for one surprising and unusual element: the address. The little unincorporated community of the house where I grew up was within the township boundaries of a Tulsa suburb that is at present, ten miles away.
Seventy-two years of city, county and US Post boundaries have evolved, dissolved or shifted and family homesteads, especially those in rural communities, may have different addresses on the 1940 Census than today. Chalk it up to the fascinating and frustrating world of genealogy: everything old is new again.
Surprised at my little discovery, it was a simple reminder that if we hope to go forward into the digging of family history, we have to keep our minds open and inviting to all possibilities. Everything and nothing is as it seems. Proud family stories are suddenly dispelled; great-grandfathers had 2nd, sometimes 3rd wives and county boundaries shift from census year to census year.
And this is supposed to be fun?
You betcha. Genealogy is a hobby that continues to reveal surprises even of our closest, immediate family and in order to stay in the game, we have to be ready when it comes.
Delight in the shifting of facts and go with the flow.
You do not have to have an Ancestry.com membership to search the 1940 US Census. All fifty states are complete and fully searchable and Ancestry.com has provided a neat trick, highlighting each category as you glide along. It allows greater readability and interpretation of results.
The world of genealogy is exploding with new ancestral records every day and the ride continues to twist and turn.
We just have to remember to turn with it.
Keep searching for answers,
(Two other great resources to search the 1940 US Census are FamilySearch.org and the National Archives.)