As a genealogist, I’m excited about the release of the 1940 census. Not only will it be online but - better yet - it will be available directly from WorldVitalRecords.com and MyHeritage.com on the very day that NARA releases the census to the public.
It is essential for researchers to know their enumeration districts (EDs) to ensure their early success on April 2nd. The last thing you want to do is call Grandma to help you find the location you should be searching instead of actually spending time in the census images.
I thought I was going to easily find my grandmother’s ED. Wow – was I wrong! Here’s my story and I hope it will provide some tips for you.
First, I called my family and asked for the city and state where my grandmother lived in 1940. The answer wasn’t immediately given, but within a day, we had an exact address: 217½ Clubhouse Avenue, Venice, California.
I went to NARA ED finder site and to SteveMorse.org and expected a very fast ED response. However, I ran into a problem on both sites, as there was no city of Venice. I was perplexed – Venice is a rather well known place southwest of Los Angeles, so I thought it must have been a case where the county - in 1940 - is no longer the county today.
After some research, I thought it could be under San Joaquin County – and tried that on the ED calculator, with no luck. I talked to some friends and some experienced genealogy buffs, but found no answer. I was not overly concerned because I did find a range of EDs where it could be listed under the “other” field and typing in Venice. I had a list of 10 or so possible EDs. This would limit my image search but would still require a lot of work.
Hoping for better results I tried again a few days later – still no Venice. I had read the early history of Venice up to and beyond 1940 on Wikipedia. Despite much information, there was nothing to help determine the ED. I decided to read more slowly and look for something.
Here is what I found – and was surprised to find.
By 1925, Venice's politics became unmanageable. Its roads, water and sewage systems badly needed repair and expansion to keep up with its growing population. When it was proposed that Venice be annexed to Los Angeles, the board of trustees voted to hold an election. Those for annexation and those against were nearly evenly matched, but many Los Angeles residents, who had moved to Venice to vote, turned the tide. Venice became part of Los Angeles in November 1925.
Here was the problem: Venice was no longer a city after 1925. It was just a suburb or a township of Los Angeles. I and others had assumed it was a city, when in fact it was not.
With that information, I was able to go again to the ED calculator. Within two or three minutes, I was beyond the city field and down to the street level where I learned the ED is 60-913.
With the right information – history, in this case - the search was very easy and I am now ready to go at 12:01am Census Morning April 2.
If you experience frustration in finding the ED you need, review in detail all information available. In my case, I needed only one line - Venice became part of Los Angeles in November 1925.
Happy census searching! You can find the 1940 Census records at www.myheritage.com/1940census.