04 April 2012

Finding the Johnsons in Rock Island in 1940

They were not as easy as other people I've found--urban families can be more difficult. The last name of Johnson doesn't make it any easier.

My work started with their entry from the 1940 Polk's Rock Island-Moline City Directory found on Ancestry.com. Part of page 283 is shown above. The couple I was looking for was Wilbur W. and Grace M. Johnson--the directory indicates that Johnson was a stripper at Servus Rubber Company. The (RI) indicates they were living in the City of Rock Island and not one of the other cities in the Quad Cities area.

Of course, I needed the enumeration district for the Johnson's 1940 era address: 1715 13th Avenue.

To find this, I went to Steve Morse's site--Unified 1940 Census ED Finder.  I entered in the address and followed the directions, entering in a cross street to narrow down the enumeration districts I needed. (click on the image to see it larger)

That was all fine and good. I viewed the pages in those two enumeration districts, 81-87 and 81-80. What I do like about Steve Morse's site is that it does allow me to pull up a current map of the address from Google  Maps.

Only problem was there was no Wilbur and Grace Johnson and there was no 1715 13th Avenue in districts 81-87 and 81-80 when I viewed the entire set of images from NARA's 1940 census site. Steve Morse's site doesn't link to the maps of the enumeration districts--just the verbal descriptions. I'll be honest, the written descriptions do not work for me. I need pictures.

And it's important to know that when people are on the border of a district what the bordering districts are. It is also important to know which side of the street people on when the street is the border.

Ancestry.com has the enumeration district maps  (NARA does as well) and seeing those made it clear to me where else I should be looking. The maps are faster than playing around with verbal district descriptions.

The red district on the image is 81-78, the blue is 81-80, and the green is 81-85. The colors weren't on the original map, but helped me. The Morse site suggested districts 81-78 and 81-80 which is where I was unsuccessful. Looking at the enumeration district map, 81-85 was my next choice based upon the house number of 1715--although 81-81 and 81-86 would have been my next choices had I not located the entry in enumeration district 81-85.

There they were--right where the directory indicated that they would be--on sheet 4A, household 71 (at the top of the page just to make it easier). There were no real surprises on the entry. Grace indicated that the family was living there on 1 April 1935, which I'm not certain about at this point.

Don't give up on your urban people if you are having difficulties. Just arm yourself with some maps.

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