Codebreaker

1940 New York census now searchable by name

John Moe Jun 6, 2012

When the 1940 census went online in April, people went ape, crashing servers with overwhelming traffic, eager to know about history, family members, and property history. Now the searching is getting a little easier as the census for New York state, which was the most populous state at that time. You can now search by name on the site, find relatives even if you don’t know where they lived. To get this all up and running, workers who are really good at reading scribbly old-timey penmanship had to sift through some of the more illegible entries.

The project lead to at least one surprising revelation for former New York mayor Ed Koch, says the AP:

His said his father came from Europe, alone at age 16, eventually raising a family in a Bronx apartment. For years, “I told people that we lived in abject poverty,” he said. A series of census records from the time would prove him wrong.
They showed that the Depression-era rent for the Kochs’ five-room Bronx apartment was $75 a month, “and that was a lot of money at the time,” Koch said.
“All my life, I was telling people I was very poor, but I learned we did not live in abject poverty; I was born into a middle-class family,” he said.

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