Final Proposal – 1940s Census Data

I chose to analyze the 1940 census data set, which categorizes data for over 10,000 people. The demographics include numerical, text, and geographic data. The categories for the information include: addresses, value of purchased homes, head of households, gender, race, age, marital status, birth year, highest education level, birthplace, residence city, employment, income, parental birth place, and native language. If we were to look at the range of data from the first hundred people, we would see that there are large ranges of numerical and descriptive data. For numerical data, the value of homes ranged from 55 to 10,000 in New York. The age range varied from 1 to 81 years old. Income of people in the 1940s ranged from 0 to 5,000. For geographic and descriptive data, the household ownership had two categories (rented or owned). Marital status ranged from widowed, single and the most common status, married. The relation to the head of household varied from wife and husband to sister-in-law and grandson. Occupations ranged from lawyers, librarians, electricians, maids, in paid family workers, and salary workers in government or private work. School attendance ranged from no educational background to attending college for over 5 years. Over 90% of the dataset consisted of white men and women, with very few black people living in these areas. There was a limited range of street names, for example the first 200 people lived on three blocks: Fleetwood Avenue, Vanschoik Avenue, and Cardinal Avenue. Majority of the residence were born in New York and continued in the same residence.


If we were to compare categories within the 1940 data set, analyzing two columns can raise questions and conclusion about the type of living situations. The first comparison is between the highest level of education and occupation. Those that have only completed some elementary or high school education up until the second year are unemployed. Several people from Vanschoik Avenue that completed the 8th grade were not employed for pay or salary workers in private or government work. Those that have a college education show occupations of Feler Booker and Dental Doctors. Those with no education showed the clear distinction of no occupation. A second comparison is between income and house ownership. It is clear to see those that rented their homes are forced to work harder since they’re making payments more frequently. The income of renters was nearly twice as the income of a home owner ($4,800 vs. $2,200) The census is skewed in showing more people owning homes in the 40s than renting. Another comparison in the data set is between gender and attendance in school or college. The census is unclear in confirming the difference between “attended school or college” and “highest graded completed”. Most of the responses in “attended school or college” said no, but had some sort of educational level in “highest grade completed”. Surprisingly, there was an even amount of males and females that have yes in the category for completing school. Majority of the ones that say “yes” only have elementary or high school education, while very few have attended college. Overall, the census does uncover some patterns in the demographics within certain areas in New York. The downfall to gathering information is the areas that are left black in the data set. If makes it harder to have a detailed account of what happened in the 1940s.


One thought on “Final Proposal – 1940s Census Data

  • April 11, 2016 at 7:45 PM

    Are your no-occupation people children or adults? If you plan to do any kind of argument about # employed or occupations of adults with no education, make sure to filter out children first (you can drag age over to filter as a continuous or discrete measure and set the range to 16-62 or 18-50, whatever you’d argue is working age for the time).

    Good observation re: attended school vs highest grade–attended school just means “did they attend school during that census year.” So you’d be marked as attending school, highest grade college, while I’d be marked with not attending school, highest grade college. Again, if this is something you plan on looking at more, make sure you take age into consideration–I believe high school through age 18 is mandatory in NY by 1940, but that would be worth checking on.

    The income for owners vs renters is interesting–kind of counter to what we might expect today, so that might be worth checking on further. May also be worth looking at the occupations of owners vs. renters as well.

    The 1940 dataset is everyone in the city of Albany, so you’ve got very detailed data on every single person in the city. It’s not going to be representative of the whole state or country, but it is very detailed for Albany!

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