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Now Available: 2020 Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) Results for the 50 states and District of Columbia.

1940 Census Instructions to Enumerators

The below text is excerpted on pages 62-66 from Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000.


(23 3/4″ X 18 1/2″, printed on two sides, space for 40 entries on each side plus two additional lines for the 5-percent sample questions; reverse side was identical except that lines were numbered 41 to 80, and the sample-line numbers were different.) Similar, but less detailed forms were used outside the continental United States.

Instructions to Enumerators

In order to make the census as complete as possible, enumerators were provided with several kinds of schedules (not reproduced here) for use in obtaining information about nonresidents who might not be reported at their homes, transients, new occupants of then vacant living quarters, absent households, etc. A ‘‘household’’ was defined in terms of ‘‘one set of cooking facilities or housekeeping arrangements.’’

With regard to race, the only change from 1930 was that Mexicans were to be listed as White unless they were definitely Indian or some race other than White.

There were detailed rules for completing the employment portion of the schedule (cols. 21-31) and for coding column 30 on the basis of the occupation entered in column 28.

Veteran status (col. 39) was extended to peacetime service as well as during wars and expeditions.

Enumerators carried a supply of a separate report form, P-16, which persons unwilling to give income information verbally could use. The completed form was to be inserted in an accompanying envelope, sealed, and given to the census taker for mailing.

It should be noted that questions 35 through 50 were asked only of a 5-percent sample of the population.

Occupied Dwellings

(23 1/2″ X 19,″ printed on two sides, space for 15 entries on each side, reverse side identical except that the lines were numbered 16 to 30; yellow stock.)

Vacant Dwellings

(16″ X 19,″ printed on two sides, space for 15 entries on each side, reverse side identical excerpt that lines were numbered 16 to 30, yellow stock.) ‘‘Color or race of head’’ and ‘‘Number of persons in household’’ (items 3 and 4 on ‘‘Occupied-Dwelling Schedule’’) did not appear on the ‘‘Vacant-Dwelling Schedule;’’ items 8-17 were the same as items 8-17 on the ‘‘Occupied Dwelling Schedule;’’ items 18-31 which appeared on the ‘‘Occupied Dwelling Schedule’’ were omitted from the ‘‘Vacant-Dwelling Schedule.’’

Instructions to Enumerators

The term ‘‘structure’’ was roughly comparable with ‘‘dwelling house’’ used in previous censuses, and 1940 ‘‘occupied dwelling units’’ could be equated with ‘‘homes’’ in 1930. The 1940 housing census, however, included vacant, habitable dwelling units and structures. It excluded units occupied by quasi households (defined as 10 or more lodgers) and various types of institutional and other places (later called ‘‘group quarters’’) not generally considered as part of the U.S. housing market. The dwelling unit itself was defined as ‘‘the living quarters occupied by, or intended for occupancy by, one household.’’

The instructions for answering the questions on the occupied and vacant dwelling schedules were fairly simple, and in many cases were spelled out on the forms themselves. Item 11 (state of repair) required the enumerator to report the structure as “needing major repairs” when parts of it, such as floors, roof, walls, or foundations required repair or replacement, “the continued neglect of which would impair the soundness of the structure and create a hazard to its safety as a place of residence.”


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