02 April 2012

1940 U.S. Census: First find!

We'll I awoke at 5:00 A.M. ready to be online for the 1940 U.S. Census opening ceremony at the National Archives and Records Administration. I thought they did a nice job keeping the speakers to a minimum of speechifying and a maximum of interest and information - particularly with regard to genealogy and history. Of course, their opportunity to strut the stuff of the online images fizzled with a technological difficulty: they couldn't get their own site to load in a timely manner. Thank goodness they anticipated just such an exigency and had some illustrative slides at the ready. Unfortunately, that did not have quite the cachet of a live demonstration. ["Dear Myrtle" was in the audience and noted that people in Israel and Sweden were having no problem loading and viewing the images.  I was once fond of Myrt.]

Anyway, then it was my turn to try.  I'd decided that in my heart of hearts the very first image I wanted to locate was for 31 Colin Place, Brooklyn, NY where my mother, her parents and brother and several of her aunts and uncles should have been residing. On the NARA site, there are about three or four screens one must navigate before seeing the images.  The first one got me to a second that seemed to want the same information I'd just entered on the previous page. Over about 60 minutes I managed to get through about three of the pages, but never the fourth where an image might deign to load.

I left for an appointment, returned home, ate a good breakfast (one must keep up one's energy), and then sat down to try again.  No luck.  The last screen just sat there with a twirling spiral and never loaded the census images for ED 24-1839. I left it for about ten minutes and then decided to give up for now.

Never to be thwarted in my genealogical quest, I decided to try the old standby: Ancestry.  I knew they would not have all the images loaded on their system yet (they'd only been allowed to do so for a few hours), but I thought it would interesting to see what they'd accomplished thus far. Probably because I'm accustomed to their search function, I found their search less onerous than the NARA one. I clicked on "State" and New York was among the choices (great! they'd been loading NY as one of their first batches!). The next pull-down menu showed they'd loaded Albany and Bronx Counties.  OK, 31 Colin Place is not in the Bronx, but I should have other relatives in the Bronx in 1940.  

The pull-down menu for the Bronx showed that they'd not quite finished loading all the Enumeration Districts. So, I selected a low number ED from my ED stash and hit pay dirt.  Yetta G. Myers [sorry Peter], widow of Louis Myers who'd passed away in 1938, still lived at 1605 Walton Avenue, Bronx, NY.  Within ED 3-132A, I paged through 17 pages of 38 and found her on Census Population Schedule page 9B.

She was living with Regina Adelstein, identified as a cousin, and a maid, Isabel Novack, who'd been with the family for at least five years. Yetta was a widow listed as 44 years old. Her naturalization papers in 1925 listed her birthday as 15 July 1892. So, she may have shaved a few years off her age. [1]

Of interest is the name Adelstein.  Yetta and Louis' daughter, Renee, had married Howard Adelstein on 12 February 1940 in Montreal. [2]

Well, if ya ain't in Brooklyn, yeh no wheah! I'll try again, later.

1. "Petition for Naturalization of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944," digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 2 April 2012), Petition for Naturalization No. 53575, Yetta Gladys Myers, 25 June 1924; citing National Archives and records Administration microfilm publication M1972, RG 21.
2. "Quebec, Vital Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 April 2012), Renee Myers and Howard M. Adelstein, 12 February 1940, Shearith Israel Congregation, Montreal, Quebec.

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