25 February 2012
How I'm Looking for Grandmama in the 1940 Census
The first person I want to find in the 1940 Census is my maternal Grandmother, Betty Huyler. I'm interested in finding her first for a number of reasons: this is her first census (she was born in 1931); I can't find her parents in 1930; she'll be living with her step-father, who I want to learn more about; I know her exact address in 1940; I really want to know where she was in 1935.
Betty had an interesting childhood. Her parents were separated due to the Depression and a "search for work" that lasted 14 years. Her mother temporarily remarried and Betty's last name was Whitfield for a few years. She spent some time in an Orphanage and some time being raised by her Grandparents, Leverett and Louise Waters. As a girl she rode the street cars in Atlanta and was almost killed when she was hit by a car. That accident caused her to lose many of her childhood memories and she was unable to provide details on many of the interesting aspects of her childhood.
The key to finding Betty in 1940 is that I have her exact address from a 1940 city directory - or rather, her mother and step-father's address: 413 Central Ave SW, Atlanta, Georgia. So this should be easy, right? Not necessarily. Atlanta is known for changing street names, both historically and still today. Often streets actually had multiple names at the same time, until they were standardized (see this map from 1895 of double-named streets). Lucky for me, it appears that Central Avenue SW has maintained it's name since it was changed in 1901 from Lloyd Street.
Knowing Betty's address is important, since there will not be a name index when the census images are released on April 2nd. Armed with an address, I headed to Steve Morse's One-Step website (please note that I had a hard to utilizing this website using Safari and had to switch to Firefox).
I used the ED Finder Utility to find the enumeration district that Betty should be in (this tool is available for cities of 50,000 or more people). I did a search for Georgia > Atlanta > Central Av and came up with eight EDs, which is still a lot. I checked the address on Google Maps to find cross streets: Alice, Pryor and Pulliam. This brought my results down to two EDs: 160-14 and 160-17.
Clicking the button for these EDs, I was then able to view details on the microfilm that this district appears on. It looks like this area, 160-14, was part of Atlanta's 1st Ward and is part of Tract F-45.
But I still have two EDs to check. Is it going to be 160-14 or 160-17? They are both in Tract F-45.
I next, used the National Archive's Online Public Access search to find a the 1940 Census Enumeration Map of this area. I searched for "1940 Census Enumeration Map Atlanta Georgia" and came up with the map of Tract F-45. You can see Central Avenue just to the left of the break in the middle of the image. You can also see Alice, Pryor and Pulliman - the cross streets I pulled from a modern Google map and used to identify this ED. Very faintly, you can see a 14 and a 17 written in the image as well. Those are the specific areas that I will be browsing through on the census to find my Grandmama. Based on this map, I think I will find her in 160-14. I can't wait for April 2nd!