52 Documents in 52 Weeks #40 – Tietje Westra’s Passenger Manifest

Persons of Interest: Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra and husband Herman Westra
Relationship: Wife of grand uncle and grand uncle

Source Citation: “New York, Passenger Lists,1820-1957,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 December 2016), entry for Tietje Westra, microfilm series T715, roll 4154, S. S. Volendam, list 4, line 28, image 356-357, page 195. Citing National Archives and Records Adminstration, New York Passenger List (Microfilm M715, 8892 rolls).


The S. S. Volendam, Source: Ancestry image

Document Description: This is a digital copy of the passenger manifest for the ship the S. S. Volendam arriving in the port of New York City on 21 October 1927. The ship departed from Rotterdam on 11 October 1927. It contains information like name, age, nationality, place of birth, place traveling to, and identifying marks. Pages are larger than a standard 8-1/2″ by 11″ paper and were kept in multi-hole binders. The originals are currently stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Background information on ships’ manifests: As with most documents that are created, some sort of law or regulation drives its creation. Ships’ manifests are no different. The first legislation related to immigrants was the Steerage Act of 1819. This act wasn’t intended to regulate who came into the United States but was intended to improve the conditions under which passengers on ships traveled. Along with having improve traveling conditions, the captains were required to collect and report on the passengers they’d carried on their ship. Thus the beginning of official immigration-related ships’ passenger lists for the United States. (Passenger lists certainly existed before 1819!) The legislation was tweaked over the years and the FamilySearch wiki on immigration has the run down of those items. The Immigration Act of 1893 is the reason the document featured in this post has all the wonderful detail it does. According to the FamilySearch wiki:

“… required that ship manifests now be delivered to an inspector of immigration instead of a customs official.  Manifests were now to be made at the time & place of embarkation rather than at debarkation.  To be included on this manifests were full name, age, sex; married or single; calling or occupation; able to read or write; nationality; last residence; sea port for landing in the US; final destination, if any, beyond the seaport of landing; who paid for the passage; whether in possession of money; whether going to join a relative and his name and address; whether ever before in the United States, and if so when and where; other facts that may cause the passenger to excluded.”

Did you know that there is a whole volunteer organization dedicated to transcribing passenger lists? The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG™) has transcribed passenger lists from the 1600s to the 1900s so that they can be searched. They are diligently working to add to their database and make their lists the most accurate that can be found. I highly recommend visiting them to see what they have to offer.

Another good resource to explore regarding immigrant ancestors is book called They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record by John P. Colletta, Ph.D. and published by the Turner Publishing Company for AncestryPublishing. Mr. Colletta discusses what you need to know and where to find passenger information, information about arrivals prior to 1820, passenger lists since 1820, what to do when your ancestor is not indexed in NARA records, and other resources for exploration. Mr. Colletta has more than 20 years experience and is a seasoned lecturer. He’s frequently a lecturer for the various genealogical societies out here in Arizona.

Document Scans and Transcription: There are three image scans related to Tietje’s passenger manifest entry.

Heading information across top of Tietje’s two sheets:
List 4, Examined and passed for visae.

ALL ALIENS arriving at a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and all aliens arriving at a port of said insular possession from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession, in whatever class they travel, MUST be fully listed and the master or commanding officer of each vessel carrying such passengers must upon arrival deliver lists thereof to the immigration officer. The entries on this sheet must be typewritten or printed.

This (yellow) sheet is for the listing of SECOND-CABIN PASSENGERS ONLY. Page 195

S. S. Volendam. Passengers sailing from Rotterdam, October 11, 1927. Arriving at Port of New York, N.Y., October 21, 1927.

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p1Left-facing sheet:
1 – No. on List: 28
2 – Head tax status: [blank]
3 – Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Tietje
4 – Age (yrs and mos.): 21
5 – Sex: F
6 – Married or Single: M
7 – Calling or occupation: HOUSEW.
8 – Able to read, language read, write: YES, DUTCH, YES
9 – Nationality: WITHOUT
10 – Race or people: DUTCH
11 – Place of birth (country and city): DUTCH, DRONRIJP
12 – Immigration visa number: 92
13 – Issued at: ROTTERDAM
14 – Date: OCT. 10TH 27
15 – Last permanent residence (country and city): HOLLAND, DRONRIJP

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p2Right-facing sheet:
16 – No. on List: 28
17 – The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend in country whence the alien came: FATHER G. TUINSTRA, DRONRIJP
18 – Final destination (state and city): N.J., LITTLE FALLS
19 – Whether having a ticket to such final destination: NO
20 – By whom was passage paid?: HUSBAND
21 – Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much?: 1
22 – Whether ever before in the United States; and if so, when and where?: NO
23 – Whether going to join a relative or friend; and if so, what relative or friend, and his full name and complete address: HUSBAND H. WESTRA, 61 HARRISON, LITTLE FALLS, N.J.
24 – Purpose of coming to United States:
|  Whether alien intends to return to country whence he came after engaging temporarily in laboring pursuits in the United States : NO
| Length of time alien intends to remain in the United States: ALWAYS
| Whether alien intends to become a Citizen of the United States: YES
25 –  Ever in prison or almshouse or institution for care and treatment of the insane, or supported by charity?  If so, which? NO
26 – Whether a polygamist: NO
27 – Whether an anarchist: NO
28 – Whether a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or all forms of law, etc.: NO
29 – Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promise, agreement, expressed or implied, to labor in the United States: NO
30 – Whether alien had been previously deported within one year: NO
31 – Condition of health, mental and physical: GOOD
32 – Deformed or crippled. Nature, length of time, and cause: NO
33 – Height (Feet | Inches): 5′ 5″
34 – Complexion: FAIR
35 – Color of – Hair | Eyes: BLD and BLUE
36 – Marks of identification: NONE

Heading information across top of Herman’s sheet:
Record on this blank United States citizens of insular possessions of the United States arriving a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and such citizens arriving at a port of said insular possessions from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession.

List 1, page 200

S. S. VOLENDAM sailing from ROTTERDAM, October 11th, 1927, Arriving at Port of New York N.Y., October 21st, 1927.

passenger-manifest-herman-westraHerman’s sheet:
No. on List: 1
Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Herman. For wife see man. 4 line 28.
Age (yrs and mos.): 24
Sex: M
Married or Single: M
If native of United States insular possession or if native of United States, give date and place of  birth (city or town and state): 433723 [penciled in]
If naturalized, give name and location of court which issued naturalization papers, and date of papers: County Court of Passaic Cy., Paterson, N.J., June 29th 1927
Address in United States: 61 Harrison, Little Falls, N.J.

Analysis: This manifest is a lesson in paying attention. If you just look at the first page I found on Ancestry, you’d think woot-woot, enter the data, and move onto the next person or task. But you’d be missing out. There are three pieces to Tietje’s listing: a left-facing page, a right-facing page, and Herman’s page. Looking at the heading on the top of the left-facing page is a clue: “LIST OR MANIFEST OF ALIEN PASSENGERS FOR THE UNITED.” United what? States, for sure, but where is the rest of the heading? On the right-facing page, of course. A rushed or frazzled researcher would miss clicking on the next (right-facing page) to check out all the good stuff on the continuation of Tietje’s listing.

Also, there’s a very helpful note by her entry that tells the researcher to look at manifest 1 line 1 to find Tietje’s husband. Why is he not listed with her? Because, at this time, he’s actually a United States citizen! He is listed with all the other citizens on a separate list.screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-22-50-pm

Once I’ve found and examined all the information found on these three pages, I can write a short narrative about Tietje’s arrival in America.

As 21-year-old Tietje Westra stepped off the gangway of the S. S. Volendam at the port of New York, New York, on the 21st of October in 1927, she tucked a stray strand of her blonde hair under her kerchief. She hoped that all the wind she’d been exposed to on the 10-day Atlantic voyage hadn’t wreaked too much havoc on her fair complexion. She felt good, both mentally and physically. Her blue eyes widened as she took in the impressive skyscrapers of New York City. This was the first time she’d ever been to America and it was breathtaking. She turned to look at her 24-year-old husband Herman standing next to her. “It’s okay,” he assured her as he put his arm around her 5′ 5″ frame. “We’re on our way home.” Home was at 61 Harrison St. in Little Falls, New Jersey.


New York City skyline, 1913. Source: LOC, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pan.6a36553

Tietje had left her nearest relative, her father G. Tuinstra, behind in her birthplace (and last residence) of Dronrijp, Holland, when she had boarded the ship in Rotterdam on the 11th day of October with Herman, who was now officially an American. Earlier in the year on the 29th of June, Herman had naturalized and filed his papers at the county courthouse in Passaic County, New Jersey. His American passport, numbered 433723, was tucked securely in his coat pocket along with Tietje’s visa, numbered 92, issued to her in Rotterdam. They didn’t want to lose any of their documents. Since she was married to an American, she was now technically without a nationality. Her race was Dutch but she was reliant on Herman to provide her protection from her alien status in her newly adopted country.

Tietje could read and write in Dutch but learning English was going to be a challenge! Just think of having to shop for all the things she would need to do her housekeeping in New Jersey. It didn’t matter how long it took to learn. She intended to stay permanently in the United States and gain her citizenship. An official on the ship had asked her all sorts of questions regarding her intentions. “No,” she’d answered when he’d asked her if she was polygamist. “No,” to a lot of the questions. She wasn’t an anarchist, didn’t intend to overthrow the United States government, hadn’t been lured with incentives for labor, and had never been in prison. “Let’s collect our trunks and get out of here,” said Herman. And with that, they were off to start their life together in America.

I already had some good genealogical information about Tietje but these documents did fill in a few blanks for me:

  • As listed in the manifest, Tietje’s father was G. Tuinstra. Even having just his first initial is a good clue.
    • The traditional dutch naming convention is as follows:
      • First-born son is named after paternal grandfather
      • Second son is named after maternal grandfather
      • First-born daughter is named after maternal grandmother
      • Second daughter is named after paternal grandmother
      • Subsequent children were often named after uncles and aunts – go wild on this child’s name!
    • Herman and Tietje named their first son John Garry which follow the convention for Herman’s father name “Jan” or John in English.
    • Herman and Tietje named their second son Garry John which would follow the convention if Tietje’s father’s name was Garry. Given his initial is given as “G” on the manifest, this is a great possibility as a first name for him.
    • Side Note: Herman and Tietje name their first daughter Shirley which would follow the convention if Tietje’s mother’s name was Shirley. I highly doubt this, however, because I think movie star Shirley Temple had more to do with this name than Tietje’s mother’s name. Their daughter was born in 1941 and the popularity of Shirley as a first name was huge.
    • screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-12-12-31-pm

      Shirley as a girl’s name. Source: The Baby Center

      If I were intent on finding out Tietje’s parents’ names, I would concentrate on a Garry Tuinstra as her father’s name.

  • Tietje was still living in her birthplace of Dronrijp, Holland, before her journey to America.
  • Tietje was living at 61 Harrison St., Little Falls, New Jersey, in October of 1927. Odds are good that city would be their location in the 1930 census.

The source documents can be considered original records since the physical documents are stored at NARA and the digital images are just straight scans of the documents without changes. When you examine the images, you can see the entire page complete with large black background margins. You’ll notice, I’ve cropped those margins out to save on my black ink and to make it look pretty for blogposts. Additionally, the image show that while some effort was made make sure the page was straight, they weren’t meticulous about it. They’re just a little off-kilter.

The information is a mix of both primary and secondary information. The shipping officials recorded Tietje’s information at the time of her voyage. Primary: Tietje was aware of her age, Herman aware of his age, the official observed what Tietje’s physical characteristics were, and both Herman and Tietje knew where they were headed to live in the United States. Secondary: Tietje birth place and her marital status.

Like the information, the evidence is a mixed bag. The direct (explicit) evidence answers the questions “When did Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra, born in Dronrijp, Holland, first arrive in America; How old was Tietje when she arrived in America; and who was Tietje married to?” The indirect evidence that she was married must be combined with some other source to answer the question about where and when Herman and Tietje were actually wed.

I love typewritten documents. They’re so easy to read. But I do have one item that has me stumped. There is a handwritten notation over Tietje’s entry on the right-facing page which I can’t decipher:screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-21-28-pm

I’m guessing it says something about her husband? “Ad to husband….?” Maybe? Someone’s initials at the end? Maybe….


Herman became an American citizen in June of 1927 and shortly thereafter traveled back to Holland in October to help his wife Tietje make the Atlantic voyage to join him in America. The ship that carried them overseas was the S. S. Volendam sailing from Rotterdam and arriving in the port of New York, New York. The passenger manifest required by immigration officials helps to create a short vignette of their arrival and also filled in a few blanks in my Westra family tree database.


52 Documents in 52 Weeks #31 – Shirley Westra’s Wedding Announcement

Person of Interest: Shirley Ann Westra
Relationship: 1st cousin 1x removed (my mother’s first cousin)

Source Citation: “Miss Westra is Bride,” marriage announcement, the Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey), 27 June 1961, p. 12, col. 5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/218844987/ : accessed 07 April 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.

Document Description: This is a digital image of a marriage announcement that ran in the Courier-News of Bridgewater, New Jersey. The entire newspaper page for this day has been digitized and these are the screen clippings.

Document Scans/Transcription:
Miss Westra Is Bride
Bedminster – Miss Shirley Ann Westra, daughter of Mrs. Herman Westra of Springdale, R.D. 1, Newton, and the late Herman Westra, became the bride recently of James Gregory Conroy, son of Mrs. James Conroy of Main St. and the late James Conroy.

The ceremony was performed by the Rev. George Everett in St. Elizabeth’s Church, Far Hills. A reception followed in the home of the bride.

Given in marriage by her brother John Westra of Newton, the bride wore an ice blue brocaded satin gown with a sequin crown and illusion veil. She carried a bouquet of carnations.

Mrs. John Westra of Newton was matron of honor. She wore a blue silk organza over taffeta gown and carried a bouquet of white carnations.

Mrs. Jerome Bird of Far Hills was bridesmaid. She was dressed identical to the matron of honor.

Best man was Harry Metzler of Bedminster. Gary Westra of Newton was an usher.

The bride is a graduate of West Morris Regional High School, Chester. The bridegroom attended Bernards High School in Bernardsville and is employed in Perrone’s Shell Station, Bedminster.

Following a wedding trip to Atlantic City, the couple will reside in Springdale, R.D. 1, Newton.

Analysis: This short article in the newspaper is a treasure trove of genealogical information. From it, we learn the following information:

  • Shirley Ann Westra’s father was Herman Westra
  • Herman Westra passed away before the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra’s mother was still alive as of the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra’s mother resided in Springdale, New Jersey, on R.D. 1
  • Shirley Ann Westra was married around June 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra married James Gregory Conroy
  • Shirley and John Conroy were married in Far Hills, New Jersey, at St. Elizabeth’s church by the Reverend George Everett
  • James Gregory Conroy’s father was James Conroy
  • James Conroy passed away before the wedding in 1961
  • James Gregory Conroy’s mother was still alive as of the wedding in 1961
  • James Gregory Conroy’s mother resided in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Main St.
  • Shirley Ann Westra had a brother named John Westra
  • John Westra was married prior to the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra graduated from West Morris Regional High School in Chester, New Jersey
  • John Gregory Conroy graduated from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey
  • John Gregory Conroy was employe at Perrone’s Shell Station in Bedminster, New Jersey
  • Shirley and John Conroy lived in Springdale, New Jersey in 1961

What we can’t get from the announcement is the exact date of the wedding. While the announcement ran on 27 June 1961, the article only says that the couple was married recently. It may have taken a while for the article to get into the paper. We also can’t discern the name of Shirley’s mother, James Gregory’s mother, or John Westra’s wife. Just based on this article, I suspect that Gary Westra was another brother but the article does not explicitly tell us this information.

We also get some small details about what the bride and some of the wedding party were wearing. I had to look to see what an illusion veil is and it seems to be a veil made of a very gossamer fabric. From the picture of Shirley that accompanied the article, we can see the type of bouquet she was carrying and the style of her dress.

This is an original document in that the wedding announcement appeared in the paper and we seem to have a digitized, true copy of it. This information found within the article is both secondary and undetermined since, most likely, the reporter/editor or typesetter did not witness the wedding firsthand.  They are relying on information that someone else provided to them. The evidence is a mixture of direct and indirect depending on the research question asked.


Newspaper wedding announcements are some handy documents to ferret out for genealogical information. Be aware, though, that wedding announcements can range from very lengthy to very short. It depends on how much information was provided to the newspapers and/or whether the marriage occurred in a church or the couple eloped. This was a nice article that allowed me to enter a husband for Shirley Ann Westra into my family tree. It filled out a few leaves on a branch of the Westra tree.

Sepia Saturday – March 2017 – Beauty is the Arms of the Holder

The prompt picture I’ve chosen from Sepia Saturday for March is one of a two people with a dog. It is their number 357 which is out of sync with my ending 2016 numbering. I could have picked that dangerous looking railing to focus on or the porch or the lady’s outfit or the child’s sailor suit but I went with two people and a dog as a theme.

My first family photo that goes with this theme is one of my mom Martha and her sister Lena when they were young girls. It’s a winter photo:

Lena, Beauty and Martha Westra

My mom was the one sitting on the sled holding their dog named Beauty. Beauty was a Fox Terrier that was white with some brown patches on her. I’m going to call Beauty a her even though, while I was interviewing her about the dog, Mom consistently called the dog “him.” She couldn’t remember if the dog was a boy or a girl. With a name like Beauty, I’m going with girl. The picture also has all sorts of other details: a large snowbank, the buttons running along the leg of Mom’s snow suit, the pointed, crocheted white hat Lena was wearing, the hand-made head covering Martha was wearing, the type of sled, the buildings in the background.

Lena holding Beauty

Beauty really belonged to Lena and Martha’s older brother Ewald but she became the family pet. One day Ewald went down to Memory Park to play baseball with friends and Beauty followed him there. Something happened, either the dog ran off chasing something or someone picked her up. She went missing for a few weeks. The Westra family was upset and wondered what happened to Beauty. But she eventually found her way home and the family was thrilled when she showed up on their porch one morning. Beauty was with the Westra for quite a while.

Martha holding Beauty by the side porch at 3 Townsend Street, Newton, NJ

I have a photo of John and Ewald Westra with a dog but I’m quite sure this is not Beauty because this dog has too much black around its ear and eye. This photo was used in another Sepia Saturday post for 2016.

John and Ewald Westra

Later in her life, when I’d ask Grandma Westra why she didn’t have any pets, I’d get a stern “Ach, I don’t like animals in the house.” Ach is an Old High German expression of grievance or displeasure which my grandmother used frequently. So I was surprised when Mom said they had other animals besides Beauty in the house at 3 Townsend Street when they were growing up. Lena had a ginger tabby cat named Pete. He was an indoor/outdoor kitty. The Westra family also had a Pomeranian-type dog that was very anxious, jittery and hairy. It would hide behind the couch all day and had to be coaxed out. Given Etta’s neat streak, I’m sure the hair alone was probably enough to drive Grandma nuts. That dog didn’t last long; it was soon given away.

Another short-timer was a dog that Mom says Russell Van Entning found and for some reason Grandma brought home with her. The story goes that Etta had the dog leashed to a door knob on the front porch when other neighborhood dogs came visiting. They were amorous visitors. Shortly after, the Westras found out their dog was pregnant. Etta didn’t want a litter of puppies and the dog was given away.

So, with this post, I found out that there were animals at 3 Townsend Street. But only when the kids were there. And I’m sure that a younger Etta was a little more tolerant of the things both animals and kids would drag into the house.

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

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

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

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]

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

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:



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


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….


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…

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #50 – Ewald Westra

Relationship: Uncle
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Ewald was the second son and second child born to Albert and Etta Westra. He was born on 05 Mar 1933 in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey.[1]

He grew up on the farms that his father was working in Sussex County and attended Newton Public Schools.

Ewald met Betty Van Auken then married her on 27 September 1952.[2] They set up their household in Green Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, and had two boys (Albert and Jerry) and two girls (Patty and Kathy).[3]

Ewald worked as a contractor and mason for years which led to health problems for him later in life. He had to get a lung transplant due to all the dust that he had inhaled over the years of building walls and cutting block.

He was doing well with his transplants when a freak storm blew through Sussex County on 16 August 1997. My mom (his sister) called me to give me the news a day or so after he passed. Ewald was worried about the car windows being open as the storm passed overhead. He went outside to close them when a large branch from a tree next to the driveway broke off and struck and killed him. Everyone was so shocked that, after surviving all the health issues he’d faced over the years, a tree branch would be his cause of death.

He was buried in Tranquility Cemetery, Tranquility, Sussex County, New Jersey.[4]

WESTRA Ewald and Betty

[1] Newton, New Jersey, Sussex County Clerk’s Office Naturalization Record Book 1152-1204:1164, Ale Westra, 02 October 1940, declaration of intention; Hall of Records, Newton.
[2] Tranquility Cemetery (Maple Lane off Kennedy Road, Tranquility, Sussex County, New Jersey), Ewald and Betty Westra marker; photo taken by author, July 2006.
[3] Sussex County, New Jersey, probate case files, docket no. 40915, Ewald Westra (1997), last will and testament of Ewald Westra, 14 September 1979; Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.
[4] Tranquility Cemetery (Maple Lane off Kennedy Road, Tranquility, Sussex County, New Jersey), Ewald and Betty Westra marker; photo taken by author, July 2006.