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Tag: census

Celebrating the life of an ancestor who was a “12 Years A Slave”

This past summer, Vera Williams attended her annual family reunion and Solomon Northup Day. The day honors her great-great-great grandfather, Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery in 1841. When Northup escaped, he wrote a book about his experiences and—most shockingly for that era—took his kidnappers to trial. The book was recently made into the movie 12 Years A Slave.

Solomon Northup Day was founded by Rene Moore, a local citizen of Saratoga Springs, NY, and has been celebrated for the past 15 years. Williams has helped organize family attendance to the events and manages a Facebook page for Solomon Northup Family and Friends. Relatives come together from across the country—including Williams’s own mother, who was honored this year as Northup’s oldest living descendant.

William fholding a first edition of "12 Years a Slave," written by her great-great-great-grandfather Solomon Northup. Williams purchased the book from Lyrical Bookstore in Silver Springs where she was attending the 15-year celebration of Solomon Northup Day.

Williams, center, holding a first edition of 12 Years a Slave, written by her great-great-great-grandfather Solomon Northup. Williams purchased the book from Lyrical Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she was attending Solomon Northup Day.Vera Williams has worked at the National Archives since 2010, but she had no idea that records documenting her family history were in her workplace.

This year, the attendees included film executives, actress Lupita Nyong’o, and other representatives from the movie 12 Years A Slave. Moore had contacted Fox Searchlight Pictures to tell them about the annual celebration, and in … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: The Enumerated Mustache

Photograph of Farmer Listening to Radio Discussion, Clarkston, Utah, 08/1933 (ARC 594941)

Don’t be fooled by the sleepy demeanor of this mustachioed man. It’s 1933, and the world is changing. And the Federal Government would be recording these changes on April 1, 1940.

Over 120,000 enumerators would fan out across 48 states and 2 territories, with copies of this Federal Decennial Census Population Schedule. They would use sled dogs in Alaska. They would go to homes in railroad cars. They would talk to famers, veterans, lodgers, women, and men.

They would count this man (and his ‘stache) and anyone else at home at the time. And since he was a farmer, they would ask him 232 questions as part of the Farm Schedule.

And all this personal information on 132.2 million citizens been kept private and secure for the last 72 years.

But on Monday, April 2, at 9 a.m., we’re releasing the 1940 census!

The 3.8 million images that make up the 1940 census will be available online to search for free at http://1940census.archives.gov/.

There are so many reasons that this is significant—it’s the first time we are releasing our information online through a gov website. It’s the first time there was a supplemental series of questions for 1 in 20 people. It’s the first time that the census did not include a question asking … [ Read all ]

Going Digital: The 1940 Census Hits the Web and YouTube

On April 2 at 9 a.m. (EDT), the National Archives will launch its first-ever online U.S. census release. By visiting 1940census.archives.gov, internet users can access a digitized version of the entire census, including more than 3.8 million images of schedules, maps, and enumeration district descriptions.

The first Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and a census has been taken every ten years since then. While the original intent of the census was to determine how many representatives each state could send to Congress, today these records serve as vital research tools for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists.

In celebration of this historic release, the National Archives has produced a series of short documentary videos on our YouTube channel. These must-watch videos provide unique insight into the areas of agriculture, housing, and population.

For a “behind-the-scenes” view of staff preparations and a tutorial on how to use the data that you will find once the 1940 Census is launched, check out this short documentary.

[ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: When Irish mustaches are smiling

Patrick Joseph Kennedy, circa 1900. From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston KFC 2706 (PC 245)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With all the hoopla over the upcoming release of the 1940 census on April 2, we haven’t really been thinking about facial hair all that much.

But then fellow National Archives staff member Jeannie (of the OurPresidents tumblr blog) sent me this photograph, and genealogy, facial hair, and St. Patrick’s Day all came together.

The mustachioed and bespectacled man to the left is Patrick J.  Kennedy, the grandfather of President John F. Kennedy and—like many Americans—the child of Irish immigrants.

His mustache, while of Irish descent, was grown in the United States.

JFK’s great-grandfather was Patrick Kennedy. He left his work as a cooper in his hometown of Dunganstown, County Wexford, and made his way to the United States and settled in Boston.

In 1849, Patrick married another Irish immigrant, Bridget Murphy, who also came from County Wexford. But after just nine years of marriage, Patrick died and left Bridget a widow with four small children. The youngest was Patrick Joseph “P.J.” Kennedy, JFK’s grandfather.

P.J. continued the family line by marrying Mary Augusta Hickey, whose parents were also orginally from Ireland. The couple lived in East Boston and their son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born on September 6, 1888.  He was John F. Kennedy’s father.

Many Americans can trace their … [ Read all ]