The 1940 census was released on Monday, and I took the day off just so I could pour through it looking for (cyberstalking!) my grandmother in her first appearance in a United States census at the age of seven and a few of her relatives for my family history project. I managed to get everyone I was looking for except for my grandmother’s sister and aunt Maggie and her family. Of course, I also ended up in the hospital…
I forgot to eat lunch, had an early dinner around 6 and then didn’t eat again all day, obsessive compulsively trying to get the overloaded servers to give up my census forms. The next morning on my way to work, low blood sugar caught up with me and I managed to pass out on the subway platform at Times Square. Fortunately, I did not fall into the tracks or otherwise die ;)
Anyway, once I found the forms I was looking for, it was a mixed bag. My grandfather’s family came across as reasonably settled - decent salary, all of the kids are in school (the image of my grandfather as a 13 year old in the seventh grade brought a smile to my face) - but grandma’s family did’t seem as lucky.
For starters, her father continues his well established schtick of lying on official documents. He gave his middle name as his first name and his first initial as his middle initial this time, and once again said he was born in New York instead of Ireland… He also said that the family was at the same address on 1 April 1935, but they moved (read: were evicted) at least once (if not twice) in that time.
My great-grandfather also only worked 12 weeks, making $280, in 1939. He also made more than $50 in non-salary income - presumably some sort of unemployment?
Of this roughly $330, $180 went to rent ($15/month) and much of the rest went out on alcohol, leaving practically nothing for his wife and four kids (by way of contrast, my grandfather’s father was supporting a wife and nine kids, but made $1000 in 1939, and the two kids who were working and living at home together earned another $500 - and Officer Bill Wilkinson, grandma’s uncle, pulled in a whopping $1800!)
I knew the stories of grandma’s home life and she’s told me a million times how poor they were, but it was still a bit sad to see it there in black and white. Still, I love the image of grandma as a 7 year old just starting school with her whole life in front of her!