C: Census Records #AtoZChallenge


Thanks for stopping by! During the month of April, we’re participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. We’re posting every day (except Sundays) to the letter of the day – A to Z through the whole month. Vintage Daze’s theme for April is RESEARCH. Join us as we get down and dirty in the archives.

C: Census Records


Census records are a useful source of historical information. Genealogists regularly find tidbits they’re searching for in census records. Other researchers, other than genealogists, also can find missing pieces buried in these years of archives.

Just last night I found a name I needed through the 1940 US Census. I was researching names that were in a 1935 Los Angeles County Fair prize winning recipe booklet. I wanted to use some of these real women as characters in a fictional short story for my writing group.

The women’s names and cities – sometimes even specific addresses – were listed in the cookbook. However, as was common during this time, many of the women were listed as: Mrs. Walter E. Carey, Mrs. Glenn Morgan, Mrs. R. J. Hoover, or Mrs. Sam Teeter. I doubt as the women gathered to hear who won the baking contests they referred to each other as Mrs. Walter E. Carey. I needed some names. Fortunately I had a city and discovered that Sam Teeter, who still lived in La Verne, California at the time of the 1940 census had a wife named Martha. She was 42 years old at the time of the census, making her 37 at the time of the baking contest in 1935. I now have a few specifics to use in my fictional re-creation.

The 1940 census is the latest census available to us. US Census records are considered confidential for 72 years. The 1950 census will be the next one released – to be released in April 2022. Persons named in the census and their heirs may request specific information prior to the census records being made public.

Individuals may request their own records (before they are publicly available) via the Census Bureau’s Age Search service. This service provides individual information from censuses that are still protected by the 72-year rule, but only to the named person, his or her heirs, or legal representatives. There is a Congressionally-mandated fee for this service. Individuals interested in requesting a search of their personal census records must complete a form BC-600 [PDF 142k], Application for Search of Census Records (form BC-600sp [PDF – 156k], Solicitud Para Busqueda De Registros Censales).

Per the United States Census Bureau:

Individual census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Publications related to the census data collected from 1790 to 2010 are available at https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html.

Visit the National Archives Web site to access 1940 Census records

1930 Census of Population

The 1930 census became available on April 1, 2002, as National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T626, Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 (2667 rolls).

The 1930 census and all existing Soundex indexes are available at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001; the Archives’ regional facilities around the country; many public libraries; and for a fee at online commercial genealogy sites.

For more information about using the 1930 census to complete your genealogical research, visit the National Archives’ 1930 Federal Population Census Web Site.


The small community of Fargo, Texas struggles to survive in the post-Depression years. Besides the lack of money, years of record breaking heat and drought threaten the farming town. But the women of the town have a strength and resolve common to many of the time. They gather together and produce a cookbook for their church. Fargo Women Plot and Plan is a fictional tale about real women represented in a real cookbook. Historical details about the town, time, and people are real. The tale that weaves the pieces together is totally fictional – a figment of this author’s imagination. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, BACK STORY, and I’ll send you this short story for free.



5 thoughts on “C: Census Records #AtoZChallenge

  1. This is a novel use of federal census records (no pun intended). I’ve used old phone books to hunt for fictional character names — but you’ve given me a new idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy to share ideas with others. I enjoy historical links to the past. There’s not enough information to be considered biographical, but by basing stories on real people, I feel like I’m helping to keep their memories alive a little longer.
      Thanks for stopping by!


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