This week Ancestry.com launched 1940 census indexes for six more states—Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Who are you looking for and what stories will you discover? Here are some well-known names that we’ve run across.
While the unincorporated town of Nutbush doesn’t really have “city limits” as the name of the famous Tina Turner song might imply, it’s nonetheless where we find her in 1940 listed as Anna Bullocks, age 5/12. (You can find Nutbush in Civil District 11 on this enumeration map.)
Only three months old in April of 1940, the “Golden Bear” was more likely to have been playing with Teddy bears than golf clubs, but we found the future golf pro, Jack Nicklaus living with his parents, Louis “Charlie” Nicklaus and Helen, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jack Nicklaus’ rival, Arnold Palmer, was probably already getting golf tips from his dad, Milfred “Deacon” Palmer, whose occupation is listed in 1940 as “pro green[s] keeper” in a country club.
Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty
The only roles brother and sister Shirley [MacLaine] and [Henry] Warren Beaty were prepping for in 1940 were those of kindergartner and preschooler. They probably got a lot of help from dad, whose occupation was that of “principal-teacher” in a public school.
In 1940, Bill Cosby is living with his parents and younger brother, James, and lodgers Ernest and Bertha Fletcher. Ernest is probably his uncle, Ernie Fletcher, who he refers to in his book I Am what I Ate– and I’m Frightened!!! And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy. The North Philadelphia neighborhood where he’s living would in later years become the backdrop for the stories that were featured on his hit series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
In 1940, years before becoming an award-winning actress and Princess of Monaco, ten-year old Grace Kelly was living in Philadelphia with her father, John “Jack” Kelly, owner of a construction business, mother Margaret, two sisters and a brother. Florence Merkel, personal secretary, is living in the household as well. Princess Grace returned to Philadelphia in 1966 to attend Florence’s funeral. (Want to learn more about the Kelly’s? Grace’s dad was chosen to answer the supplemental questions at the bottom of the schedule.)
Although only sixteen at the time of the 1940 census, Doris Kappelhoff’s mother gave her age in the census as eighteen. By this time Doris had begun singing professionally on the radio and in local bands, although her occupation in the census is listed simply as “new worker.” She’s living in Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother, Alma and brother, Paul.
The future talk show host and media mogul’s 1940 census record shows the five-year-old Phil Donahue living with his parents in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father, Phillip, is working as a furniture salesman, earning $2,200 per year.
We found Paul L. Newman living with his brother and parents, Arthur and Theresa in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), where he was attending Shaker Heights High School at the time. A few years later he was serving in the Pacific theater of World War II and in 1945 was serving as an Aviation Radioman, Third Class aboard the USS Hollandia about 500 miles from Japan when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
An avid horseracing fan, comedian Thomas [Tim] Conway may have come about his love of horses at an early age. In the 1940 census, his father’s occupation is listed as “horseman, country estate.”
See what you can find in the 1940 census.
About Juliana Szucs
Juliana Szucs has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.