1940 Census, Doomsday, and April Fool’s (It’s no Joke!)

by | Apr 1, 2008 | Genealogy

Genealogists have long sought the early release of the next census and, with the additions to the questions asked on the 1940 census, this one promises to be a doozy. That is, if your grandparents didn’t boycott it. The new questions, income and fertility for example, raised the ire of many, causing Senator Tobey of New Hampshire to lead the call for a boycott of the census. Still, I’ve been sitting on pins and needles to get my hands on it.  I believe that solving the riddle of my father’s biological father’s line lies on that census. My father’s father, Harry Brooks’s death certificate says his parents are Henry and Florence Brooks. In the 1930 census, no Henry Brooks who matches the description can be found. However there is a Harry Brooks at the correct age, the correct place, who’s living with a Florence. Problem is she has a different last name and the census taker wrote that the young Harry Brooks was her nephew, not her son. As genealogists go, we’re a pretty patient folk, calmly scouring page after page of microfilm in a blackened musty back room, ’til we finally uncover that one sentence, that one line in a ancient document that “proves” a relationship between one person and another.
Although the 1940 Census is scheduled to be released on April 1st, 2012, (no, it’s not an April Fool’s day joke), according to many the world will end on December 21st, 2012. According to a program on the History Channel: “There are prophecies and oracles from around the world that all seem to point to December 21, 2012 as doomsday.” (Luckily, some Mayan historians, say the day is actually December 23rd, but by that time I don’t know if two days will matter.) The History Channel program goes on to say, “The ancient Mayan Calendar, the medieval predictions of Merlin, the Book of Revelation and the Chinese oracle of the I Ching all point to this specific date as the end of civilization. A new technology called ‘The Web-Bot Project’ makes massive scans of the internet as a means of forecasting the future… and has turned up the same dreaded date: 2012. Skeptics point to a long history of “Failed Doomsdays”, but many oracles of doom throughout history have a disturbingly accurate track record. As the year 2012 ticks ever closer we’ll speculate if there are any reasons to believe these doomsayers.”
Even Wikipedia has set aside the date and lists all the references to that day as the end of the world. It’s list of those who indicate the end of the world — ranging from the Prophecies of Nostradamas to Richard C. Duncan’s book, “The Peak of World Oil Production…” — is too long to give here, but if you’re curious go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012
So, if the world ends on December 21st, that gives us genealogists only a short eight months to index, scan, and discover our deepest genealogical questions! I’ve downloaded the forms, which you can already get online at http://www.1940census.net. I’ve made a list of who I want to look up and where they are, because since there won’t be any index then I’ll need to look in a specific area, but all that is probably besides the point.
Now that I’ve moved to the boondocks, its not easy  to just run down to the National Archives to wait in line for the 1940 census on April 1st, 2012, which is a Saturday so even if I could get to the Archives would they have them on a Saturday? Do government workers work on Saturdays? Since I probably can’t get close to the archives any way, I’ll be one of those people who have to wait til Ancestry or whoever battles it out to get rights to index it first so that they can bring it to the general public (who’s able or willing to pay for membership on Ancestry). So,  I’m crossing my fingers that the doomsdayers are, once again as always, blowing smoke or that the Bureau will take into account that the world is ending and give us genealogists a break and release the 1940 census early. What do you say, Uncle Sam?


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