It’s amazing to know that 13.5 million people lived in New York in 1940. It was the country’s biggest state at that time and the census pages are chock full of fascinating folks. Ancestry.com has now just launched the 1940 U.S. Federal Census Index for the Empire State, which now joins the District of Columbia, Maine and Nevada.
Some immediately recognizable folks are listed below and there are many more including your own family members who may still be among the living if they lived in New York in, Washington DC, Maine or Nevada in 1940:
Katherine Hepburn “The Great Kate” was in New York acting in the stage version of The Philadelphia Story, which had closed its year-long run at the Shubert Theater just a few days before the census was taken. She wouldn’t be in New York for long though, as she needed to be back in Hollywood where the movie version of The Philadelphia Story began filming in July of that year.
John D. Rockefeller Jr. The philanthropist and iconic businessman had driven “The Last Rivet” in the final original building in Rockefeller Center the previous year and was basking in the success of his now-thriving “city within a city.”
Billie [Elnora] Holiday Born Eleanora Harris, Billie lists her occupation as a singer in a night club, and is living with her mother, Sadie, and friend and fellow musician, Irene Wilson.
Al Jolson Scroll down the page to find David Selznick, producer of the 1940 Academy Award winning movie, Gone with the Wind. Both are guests at the Sherry Netherland Hotel.
Bert Lahr Probably enjoying some of the fruits of his recent success as “the Cowardly Lion” in The Wizard of Oz, actor Bert Lahr was enumerated staying the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Cole Porter At home in his apartment at the Waldorf Astoria, Cole Porter’s lists his last residence as Paris, France. Following a fall from a horse that broke both of his legs in 1937, he was suffering from chronic pain that would plague him for the rest of his life, but he continued to work, writing several songs for the 1940 film Broadway Melody of 1940, including I’ve Got My Eyes on You and Begin the Beguine.
J. Edgar Hoover Living alone at 413 Seward Square in Washington, D.C., Hoover, the FBI director, had been leading the bureau (formerly the Bureau of Investigation) since he was appointed director in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge, and he would continue in that role until his death in 1972.
Marvin Gaye The census taker arrived at the Gay family residence on Marvin’s first birthday April 2, where Marvin was enumerated along with his father Marvin Sr., who was a preacher, his mom, Alberta, and one brother and one sister.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt FDR and Eleanor are in the White House, just where you’d expect them.”
Click 1940 U.S. Federal Census index to start your search.