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Monday, March 5, 2012

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Evidence of a Legacy in the 1940 US Census

I pretty much knew subconsciously that when I look back at the US Census, I have been looking to verify more about my ancestors than just names, dates, and places.  The excitement I feel as I pour over its pages along with the satisfaction and pride I feel as I closely inspect the family groups has not been something that I have articulated before now.

Looking back at what the 1940 US Census meant to African Americans, I came across a April 1940 issue of "The Crisis,"  the official journal of the NAACP founded by W. E. B. Dubois. In this issue, an editorial entitled, "Aid the Census," reminded African Americans of their duty to help with  taking the census and making sure the information given was as accurate as possible.

The census was one way they could clear up certain misconceptions about "their ratio to the whole population"and arguments such as they did not own property or pay taxes.  The editorial also mentioned there were a thousand other reasons including literacy information, type and extent of employment, church membership, voting age, population distribution, and businesses owned.

You can read the entire article here (bottom right corner):

The Crisis, Pg 113, column 2, Apr 1940, 28 pages, Vol. 47, No. 4, ISSN 0011-1422, Published by The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc.

Every census previous to 1940 has also provided evidence of the family values which were taught to me.   This has been the reason for the excitement and joy I have felt in my search.  I am greatly anticipating searching out these ancestors again when the 1940 US Census is made available.  The important data mentioned in this article in "The Crisis" most definitely helps to raise the status of African Americans in the minds of many in that day, but I hold my ancestors to the high standards they set for me.  When I see the evidences of the following, I realize that in my own life I am basically continuing a legacy which began well before me.
  • Marriage and two-parent households
  • Property and land ownership
  • Business ownership
  • Education
  • Proximity to parents and other extended family

I am more determined to see this wonderful cycle continue.  I hope my posterity will be fortunate down the road to have the same pleasant feelings when they look back on me.  
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