01 March 2012

1940 U.S. Census: 31 Colin Place, Brooklyn, New York

I know where I'll look first in the 1940 U.S. Census when it becomes available to the public on 2 April 2012 - and I know who'll be shown living there. The two-family home on a 32 X 10o foot lot at 31 Colin Place in the Flatbush (Gravesend) section of Brooklyn was built in 1920 and purchased on 15 July 1929 by my mother's parents, Tillie Liebross Wilson and Joseph Wilson, and sold by my grandfather on 30 January 1962 after my grandmother had passed away. The Wilson family lived on the first floor.[1]

31 Colin Place, Brooklyn, NY in 1941 [4]
In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census taken on 4 April 1930, Joseph and Tillie Wilson owned the home and lived there with their children Ira (age 11) and Norma (age 8). The elementary school (PS-215) that Ira and Norma attended was just down the street. My grandfather owned a sweater factory and had, apparently, done fairly well. The home was valued at $16,500. The Samuel and Lillian Dietch family with 4 children lived at 31 Colin Place, too, presumably in the second floor. They paid $80 rent each month for the privilege.[2]

On 26 September 1930, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle carried a classified advertisement in the Real Estate section for an unfurnished apartment on the top floor of a two family house at 31 Colin Place.  The apartment had 6 rooms, one bath and an open porch.[3]

I do not know if my grandparents acquired a renter in 1930, but I do know that the 1933 Brooklyn Directory indicates that several of Tillie Wilson's Liebross family members resided there: her parents Louis (Eliezer) and Bertha (Breina) and three of Tillie's siblings (Celia, Rose and Irving). [5]

Louis died in 1935 and Bertha in 1937.  So, by 1940, I expect to see that Celia, Rose and Irving are living upstairs. My grandmother's home was a welcoming place and the house was a hub of family activity for the Liebross clan. Tillie's brother Jerry and his son Stanford spent a great deal of time there. Tillie's cousins David and Bessie Ett would play cards frequently at 31 Colin Place.[6] [7]

By 1940, my mother Norma and my uncle Ira were both students at New York University. My mother majored in English with the thought of becoming a teacher and my uncle eventually got a law degree.

The property stayed in the family until my grandmother's death. I was young at the time and I have vague memories of the lower floor where my grandparents' lived. There were two bedrooms toward the back of the house and an enclosed porch in front. When there were four living in the house, my mother's bedroom was one of the back bedrooms and my uncle's room was in the enclosed porch area. My recollection of the kitchen was that it had a lot of white tile. Tillie was an excellent cook and particularly excelled at baking. I remember watching my grandmother braid challah - a skill I have yet to master. There was a breakfast area just off the kitchen and I recall sitting there eating delicious hamburgers off of glass plates. Later in life when I needed new plates, I purchased blue glass ones in my grandmother's honor. My brother tells me that my grandmother's hamburgers were so special because of the secret ingredient: chicken fat. The stuff from which memories are made!

When the 1940 United States Federal Census becomes available for the first time on 2 April 2012 after 72 years of storage, it will not be easy to find 31 Colin Place, Brooklyn, NY.  Unlike its previously released online brethren, the 1940 Census will not yet have been indexed by name. Estimates are that with a good volunteer effort, a full index may be online within six months. With a great volunteer indexing effort, the wait may be shorter. The 1940 US Census Community Project aims to recruit, train and enable volunteer indexers to create an index for the Census that will be free online. I have signed up and I have been indexing other records to prepare for the arrival of the 1940 U.S. Census.

In the mean time, my genealogy plans are to search out 31 Colin Place using the current tools at my disposal.  Thanks (once again) to SteveMorse.org for creating several tools to help us locate our families in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census even before an index is available. Since I know the address and the Census Enumeration District in the 1930 Census (E.D. 24-1932, found in the upper right corner of the census page), I was able to short-cut the process slightly. Using the "Unified 1940 Census ED Finder" I was able to enter:
  • State: New York
  • ED: 24 (Kings) - 1932
  • Press "Get 1940 ED numbers" and
  • Locate E.D. 24-1839
One might alternatively use the "1880-1940 Census E.D. Finder"
    • Select State: New York
    • Select City: Brooklyn (Kings Co)
    • Select a Street: Colin Pl
    The One Step tool then provides the following: "The ED you want is 24-1839."

    So, I'm ready to add to my family history for the Joseph and Tillie Wilson family and several of their Liebross kin in 1940. Once the images are online, even without an index, I'll be able to enter the E.D. number, quickly sort through the sheets in that Enumeration District, and find my family at 31 Colin Place. This one will be easy, because I know where they will be.  For most of my relatives, however, an index will be critical for finding them in the 1940 U.S.Census.  Let's get this done in record time! You should sign up for indexing, too.
    1. Kings County, New York, 1961 probate file, Tillie Wilson; Surrogate Court, Kings County, Brooklyn.
    2. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Enumeration District (ED) 24-1932, sheet 7-A, dwelling 82, family 107, Joseph Wilson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 March 2012), citing Family History Library Microfilm 2341260.
    3. The Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), Sunday, 26 September 1930, page 32, column 2; digital images, Old Fulton, New York Postcards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 1 March 2012).
    4. "Block 6681, Lot 95," 1940 Tax Photographs, New York City Department of Records, Municipal Archives, New York, New York.
    5. R.L. Polk & Co's 1933 Brooklyn City Directory (Brooklyn, New York: R.L. Polk & Co., 1933), 1160, entry for "Liebross"; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 February 2012).
    6. New York City Department of Health, death certificate 14091 (29 June 1935), Louis Liebross; New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
    7. New York City Department of Health, death certificate 10976 (11 May 1937), Bertha Liebross; New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

    The URL for this post is: http://extrayad.blogspot.com/2012/03/1940-us-census-31-colin-place-brooklyn.html

    See another post about 31 Colin Place: http://extrayad.blogspot.com/2012/03/31-colin-place-memories.html 

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