Do you ever wonder how the census taker went from house to house? Did they go up one side of the street and then down the other? How many blocks did they go on one side before hitting the other side of the street? Did they go back and forth across the street working both sides with one pass?
Have you made assumptions that the families listed before and after one of your ancestors were their next-door neighbors or maybe someone across the street? That may well be the case, but maybe some of their closest neighbors are several pages away.
I intended to wait for the index to do any searching in the 1940 U. S. Census, but with everyone talking about their finds this week, I caved on Thursday and looked for both of my parents. When I found my maternal grandparents’ household, I mentioned it to my mother. I’m not sure how the conversation turned to the neighbors, but it did. She was talking about people who lived near them and rattling off names faster than I could find them. It soon became clear that some of their closet neighbors weren’t listed especially close to her family.This map shows the “number of household in order of visitation” from the census pages. #266 is my grandparents’ house, which faces Johnie Street. There are more than 100 households listed between them and the families directly across the street and almost 50 between them and the family on the opposite corner. There is two blocks between household #250 and #252. (Mom didn’t remember household #251 so I couldn’t plot it.) #262 is next door to #280 and across the street from #276.
I didn’t try to plot every house in the neighborhood (mainly because Mom isn’t sure exactly where some families lived) but there are enough to get a feel for how the census taker traveled. It appears she came down Mapother Street (#160, #161, #162) then turned the corner onto Johnnie Street (#163, #164). From there she went up Chad Street and hit several other streets not shown on this map clip before coming down the other side of Mapother (#217, #218). After that she was on Bailey Street before moving back to Johnnie Street (#252, #260) and for some reason jumped down to Mapother to pick up #262 before returning to Johnnie Street. For the most part she went in order down one side of a street with an occasional random move that does not seem to make sense.
So. Keep in mind that the family listed right after your ancestor may not have lived next door and a family listed 10 pages away might have lived just across the street.
And. If you have a relative who was alive in 1940, they might like a trip down memory lane through the pages of the census. I think Mom really enjoyed reminiscing about her childhood friends.