It's nice when what we think we know about a person is confirmed with facts. No more guessing; a loved one really was that way. I learned that again this week about my mother.
My husband Larry had been looking up our family information on the 1940s US census, which only recently became available for searching on the internet. Basically you need to know where your family members lived and the streets that crossed theirs so that you can get an identifying number as a way to locate their information on street maps.
He looked for his parents' homes in Erie, and then turned to my mother and father who lived in Butler, PA. It takes a lot of time to locate a family, as the forms were filled out by hand and depending on the person's penmanship, often difficult to read.
But there it was: My mother's family listed on the census form. The four residents of 211 Hickory Street were Dario Gori, 57; Zelinda, 46; Emily, 25 and my mother, Leopolda, 20. Other data included on the sheet was the value of their small house ($1,800), what country they were born in and the level of education they had reached.
But the most interesting thing was finding out who had answered the "government man's" questions when he came to the door to take the census. The little "x" next to my mom's name meant she had been the one he interviewed, which doesn't surprise me. She may have been the only one home, but that's unlikely because I am sure my grandmother was always there. But her struggles with English would have kept her from answering any questions.
I can just picture Nonna telling my mom to come to the door, quick!, so that the questions could be answered. And just as well, my mom delighting in the chance to meet someone new and talk about her family.
When looking for my dad's information, we were able to find the census listings for his family but ironically, the names of their children living in the home had been cut off when the pages were scanned. The only residents listed were my grandparents and their ages: Andrew, 66, and Teresa, 62. Their home was valued at $3,000.
This is fascinating stuff and I can see why people get so involved in the genealogy of their families. There will be a long wait until the 1950s and ultimately, the 1960s census are released and in which I would be included. But there's something special about feeling a connection to long gone family members, knowing they were present at that moment in time.
To begin your search for family members in the 1940 census, click here.
By Teresa K. Flatley