52 Documents in 52 Weeks #6 – Herman Westra’s 1940 Census

Person of Interest: Herman Westra
Relationship: Paternal grand uncle


Source Citation: 1940 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Andover, ED 19-2, page 14 (stamped), sheet 6B-7A, family 121, Herman Westra household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 November 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2384.


Documents Description: These documents are part of the Sixteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1940, shortly before World War II broke out. It is the sixteenth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1930 records in April 2002 and most recently, the 1940 records were released April 2, 2012. 

Independently, both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org raced to get this census indexed and searchable by name once the digital images had been released. FamilySearch.org completed their indexing of 132 million names in only 4 months which speaks to the efforts of all the volunteers involved in the project. Ancestry.com was just as ambitious and had 38 states and territories fully indexed and searchable by July 27, 2012.


Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the schedule
1940-us-census-herman-westra-6bPage 6B Header
State: New Jersey; County: Sussex; Township: Andover; S.D. No.: 1; E.D. No.: 19-2; Enumerated by me on: May 8, 1940; Enumerator: James J. Fogleson; Sheet No.: 6B; stamped page number does not exist

Page 6B Detail
line 80, Herman Westra
Location

1. Street, avenue, road, etc.: Germany Flats Road
2. House number: [blank]

Household Data
3. Number of household in order of visitation: 121
4. Home owned (O) or rented (R): R
5. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented: 25
6. Does this household live on a farm? : Yes
7. Name: Westra, Herman
8. Relationship of this person to the head of the household: Head
A. Code A: O

Personal Description
9. Sex: M
10. Color or race: W
11. Age at last birthday: 37
12. Marital status: M

Education
13. Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940: No
14. Highest grade of school completed: 8
B. Code B: 8

Place of Birth
15. If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937: Holland
C. Code C: 08
16. Citizenship of the foreign born: Na

Residence, April 1, 1935
17. City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter “R” for all other places: Clinton
18. County: Huntington
19. State: New Jersey
20. On a farm?: Yes
D. Code D: 5712

Employment Status, persons 14 years old and over
21. Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov’t. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): Yes
22. At Public work?: “-”
23. Seeking work?: “-”
24. Has a job?: “-”
25. Engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): “-”
E. Code E: 1
26. Hours Worked: 100
27. Weeks out of work: [blank]

Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker
28. Occupation: Operator
29. Industry: Farm
30. Worker Class: OA
F. Code F: 000-VV-4
31: # of Weeks Worked: 52

Income in 1939
32. Wage/income received: 0  [1,200 was written in but then struck through]
33. Other sources of income: Yes
34: Farm schedule: [blank]

Supplemental questions for line 80 (Questions 35 to 50 below)
35. Name: Herman Westra

Place of Birth of Father and Mother
36: Father’s place of birth: Holland
37. Mother’s place of birth: Holland
G. Code G: 8
38. Language: Dutch
H. Code H: 08

Veterans
39. Veteran?: No
40. If child, is veteran-father dead?: [blank]
41. War or military service: [blank]
I. Code I: [blank]

Social Security
42. Have a SSN?: No
43. Old-Age or RR deductions?: [blank]
44. Deductions all, 1/2 or part?: [blank]

Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker
45. Usual occupation: Farmer
46. Usual industry: Farm
47. Usual class of worker: OA
J. Code J: ___-VV-4

For all woman who are or have been married
48. Has woman been married more than once?: [blank]
49. Age at first marriage: [blank]
50. Number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths): [blank]

Office Use Only Codes
K. Ten (4): 1
L. V-R(5): 1
M. Fm. Res. and Sex (6 and 9): 3
N. Color and nat. (10, 15, 36 and 37): 4
O. Age(11): 37
P. Mar. St.(12): 2
Q. Gr.Com(B): 8
R. Cit.(16): 1
S. Wrk.St.(E): 1
T. Hrs.wkd or Dur.un (26 or 27): V
U. Occupution, Industry, Class of Worker(F): [blank]
V. Wks.wkd(31): 9
W. Wages(32): [illegible]
X. Ot.inc(33): [blank]
Y. [no heading]: 0
Z. [no heading]: [blank]

1940-us-census-herman-westra-7aPage 7A Header
State: New Jersey; County: Sussex; Township: Andover; S.D. No.: 1; E.D. No.: 19-2; Enumerated by me on: May 8, 1940; Enumerator: James J. Fogleson; Sheet No.: 6B; stamped page number with “14”

Page 7A Detail
lines 1-3, Tillie, John and Gary Westra [respectively with ; between]

Location
1. Street, avenue, road, etc.: Germany Flats Road
2. House number: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Household Data
3. Number of household in order of visitation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
4. Home owned (O) or rented (R): [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
5. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
6. Does this household live on a farm? : [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
7. Name: Westra, Tillie Ⓧ;  —–, John; —–, Garry
8. Relationship of this person to the head of the household: Wife; Son; Son
A. Code A: 1; 2; 2

Personal Description
9. Sex: F; M; M
10. Color or race: W; W; W
11. Age at last birthday: 33; 11; 8
12. Marital status: M; S; S

Education
13. Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940: No; yes; yes
14. Highest grade of school completed: H-1; 4; 2
B. Code B: 9; 4; 2

Place of Birth
15. If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937: Holland; New Jersey; New Jersey
C. Code C: 08; 57; 57
16. Citizenship of the foreign born: Al; [blank]; [blank]

Residence, April 1, 1935
17. City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter “R” for all other places: Clinton; Clinton; Clinton
18. County: Huntington; Huntington; Huntington
19. State: New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey
20. On a farm?: Yes; yes; yes
D. Code D: 5712; 5712; 5712

Employment Status, persons 14 years old and over
21. Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov’t. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): no; [blank]; [blank]
22. At Public work?: no; [blank]; [blank]
23. Seeking work?: no; [blank]; [blank]
24. Has a job?: no; [blank]; [blank]
25. Engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): H; [blank]; [blank]
E. Code E: 5; [blank]; [blank]
26. Hours Worked: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
27. Weeks out of work: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker
28. Occupation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
29. Industry: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
30. Worker Class: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
F. Code F: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
31: # of Weeks Worked: o; [blank]; [blank]

Income in 1939
32. Wage/income received: o; [blank]; [blank]
33. Other sources of income: No; [blank]; [blank]
34: Farm schedule: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]


Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

On 01 April 1940, Herman Westra (37), head of household, was living in Andover Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, with his wife Tillie (33) and two young sons, John (11) and Garry (8). Tillie was the informant when enumerator, James J. Fogelson, visited the Westra household on 08 May 1940 to record the family’s information. Mr. Fogelson was working in his Supervisor’s District of 1 which oversaw Enumeration District 19-2. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as #121 and was living on a rented farm located on Germany Flats Road in Andover Township. Herman was paying $25 per month to rent the land he was operating as a farm. Tillie was working in home doing housework. The family had moved to Andover from Clinton, Huntington County, New Jersey, the place where the family had been living on 01 April 1935. 

Both Herman and Tillie were reported as being born in Holland while their two boys were born in New Jersey. Herman was naturalized as a U.S. citizen while Tillie was reported as being “alien” status. Herman was selected to be sampled for more information (questions 35-50)  and it was reported that his parents were born in Holland and that the language spoken in home in his earliest childhood was Dutch. Herman was reported as finishing 8th grade while his wife Tillie had completed one year of high school. Their boys were currently attending school with John having completed 4th grade and Garry the 2nd grade. 

Since Herman was over 14 years of age, there were a number of very specific items reported for him in relation to his employment status. Herman was reported as being someone who was at work for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Government work during week of March 24-30, 1940.  He was not at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30, 1940. Herman was not seeking working and did have a job. It was reported that he had worked 100 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940 and that he’d had no unemployed weeks of work up to March 30, 1940. His occupation was an operator of the farm industry and was working on his own account. He reported working 52 weeks in 1939. While there was an amount of $1,200 reported as wages, this was struck through and $0 reported instead. Herman was reported as receiving income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary.

The remaining extra questions (35-50) show that Herman was not a veteran and that his normal occupation was farming in the farm industry working on his own account.

The basic questions asked in this census give us a pretty good snapshot in 1940 for who Herman was, what his family looked like, what he did, where he lived, and his nativity. But this particular family also provides us with the opportunity to study the census a bit deeper.

There are some significant differences in this 1940 census compared to the 1930 census.

  • The person providing the information to the enumerator was identified this time with an encircled x  “Ⓧ” next to their name. In all previous censuses, one could only guess if the informant was the wife, the husband, the head of household, or even a neighbor. On this document, Tillie was the person reporting. We can’t, however, say without a shadow of a doubt whether she was the mother of John and Garry. She most likely is, but the question asks what relationship the boys are to the head of household, not to the wife or the informant. She could be a second wife and further confirmation is needed to prove John and Garry are her sons with Herman.
  • This census also provided a “double” counting with the questions about where the persons were living in 1935. No other census had asked that before. It provides the viewers with information about whether the person was living in the same house, the same place, or somewhere completely different.
  • Another difference is the concentration of questions about employment. The United States was just pulling out of the Great Depression, the rest of the world was at war, Social Security had been enacted in 1935, the Civil Conservation Corps and Works Projects Administration were employing millions of unskilled men, and times were still pretty tough. Employment was on everyone’s mind, including the government!

There are a few mistakes made when looking at this family. Herman is improperly indexed as “Hernan” and Garry is improperly indexed as “George” on the Ancestry.com site. There is no Huntington County in New Jersey and never has been; there is, however, a Hunterdon County and that’s what should have been listed. Tillie’s actual given name is the Dutch “Tietje” but she most likely provided the enumerator with an Americanized version of her name. The lesson? Don’t take everything you read at face value and verify with other sources.

It also helps to know what specifically the enumerators were required to ask and the rules around how they were to record things. There are some hints at that with the bottom of the forms themselves. For example, race was defined for column 10 with a small table at the bottom listing the choices as W=White, Neg=Negro, In=Indian, Chi=Chinese, Jp=Japanese, Fil=Filipino, Hin=Hindu, Kor=Korean and all others were to be spelled out in full.screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-41-52-pm

But were there other instructions with regard to race? For example, what about mixed raced people? There indeed were further instructions:

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-50-07-pm

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-34-59-pm

Snippet of enumerator instructions regarding the heading of the form from IPUMS

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-30-45-pm

Snippet of 1940 census form from IPUMS

What about all the other columns? There is a great website out there that helps with this and it’s called IPUMS. It provides you with clean copies of the census form, the enumeration instructions, and the census questions. And not just for the 1940 census!

Another great census website is Steve Morse‘s “One-Step Webpages.” He offers some great tools related to enumeration district maps and how the districts were defined. And it’s not just limited to census tools. He self-defines his site as “This site contains tools for finding immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications. Some of these tools fetch data from other websites but do so in more versatile ways than the search tools provided on those websites.”

What about some of the notations within this document? Like the code we find for Herman in “F. Code F: 000-VV-4” squeezed between columns 30 and 31. There’s nothing on IPUMS that tells us what those mean. Steve Morse helps us out with that too! He has a handy tool that tells us exactly what Herman’s code means. screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-5-16-52-pmSince the codes were added after the census was taken, they’re not really not much aide except to help decipher some enumerator’s poor handwriting. If you can’t make out the scribbling in the industry column, the additional codes may help with that.

Once we’ve looked at all the boxes and teased out as much information for Herman as we possibly can from this, it’s time to let the census tell us what our next steps should be. It helps us form the bare bones of a further research plan.

  • Herman was naturalized meaning that there are probably immigration documents: passenger manifests, declarations of intention, petitions for citizenship, court orders, etc.
  • Herman was probably not the only one from his family in America. We need to explore the census lines and pages all around him. Who were his neighbors? Did the enumeration district get divided in a weird way so that a brother, father, etc. was recorded 6 pages away? Were his neighbors Dutch too?
  • Birth information is needed for John and Garry to show that Herman and Tillie are truly their parents.
  • Marriage information is needed for Herman and Tillie. Were they married here? Or before they immigrated?
  • Etc. The list could go on….

CONCLUSION

Herman Westra’s 1940 census enumeration provides some great information about him and the make up of his family. However, given what was happening in the United States and all over the globe at this time, it would be a mistake to only interpret the data found here by itself. Additionally, the census suggest other avenues of research for Herman, Tillie, John, and Garry Westra. The to-do list gets longer! IF this family is one that I want to concentrate my time and efforts on…

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