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You may or may not be aware that this week the National Archives posted online the 3.8 million pages that made up the 1940 census. They aren't yet searchable by name, but they are browsable by "enumeration district." This means that if you don't mind waiting for huge images to load, you can in essence wander from street to street and find out all manner of information about the people who lived there 72 years ago.
Since I've had a little bit of experience with census digging (I did a lot of my family's geneaology back in the early 2000s, before I began some other project that soon sucked up all my free time), I took a few minutes and found the links to the five enumeration districts that cover Near Southeast, along with the map that shows their locations.
So, if you live in Capitol Quarter, ED 204 covers you (from 2nd to 5th and Virginia to M). ED 203 goes east from 5th to 11th, while ED 205 includes all the blocks between 2nd and South Capitol north of M, for you Velocity/Onyx/CHT/Capitol Yards folks. ED 206 goes from M to the Waterfront and over to what's now the WASA site, while ED 207 covers the Navy Yard, which at that time ran from New Jersey Avenue to 11th. (It's actually funny how those boundaries from 72 years ago do a pretty good job of reflecting how the neighborhood's various sub-areas are still seen today.)
This was more than 10 years before the Cappers were built, but the neighborhood wasn't exactly a rich enclave. Plus, not many houses that were standing in 1940 remain in existence today, so only a few people will get the fun of seeing who actually lived in their house back then. But I thought one or two people might enjoy wandering through the many pages to get a feel for the people who lived in Near Southeast as World War II was looming. (You'll probably want to use the Questions Asked page to guide you across the columns. Note that the street name is written vertically in the first column, with the house number next. And the pages don't always perfectly follow the grid, so you may need to page through much of the ED to find the spot you're looking for. Plus, the image display is really cruddy right now, so using the option to download an entire ED and then browsing with the image viewer on your own computer might be preferable.)
Please post in the comments anything interesting you find--you'll make an old lady historian very happy.
(And I guess I might have to dig up the same information for earlier censuses. Not tonight.)
PS: If you don't live in one of these EDs, you can wander through the city map to find yours.
Comments (4)
 
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JD says: (4/4/12 9:20 PM)
And I should mention that I've already done this for my own outside-the-boundaries residence. Our typical Capitol Hill rowhouse was home to a family of three--plus three lodgers!


Shogungts says: (4/5/12 12:47 AM)
Thanks for posting this JD, I live in a small condo building (11 units) across from Garfield park (also just outside of your blog's area) and unfortunately there does not appear to be a way to map the answers to specific units in our building (especially since there were only 8 units on the survey), but there were some interesting answers. Highlights include everyone renting and paying $31 dollars a month and my favorite occupation was 'salad girl' at a restaurant.

Thanks again for providing that map the ED codes as I was getting very frustrated trying to load the huge DC images and sort through them.


crice says: (4/5/12 11:03 AM)
Thanks for posting this information on enumeration districts. It's a real time saver in digging into these records.

Ancestry.com is hosting the 1940 Census information and allowing free access through April 10. I found their site at ancestry.com/1940-census to be a bit friendlier and quicker than 1940census.archives.gov.

I also found stevemorse.org/census/unified.html to be a useful tool for figuring out enumeration districts and accessing the archived information.



stax says: (4/10/12 11:28 AM)
These glimpses into the past are fascinating. I have looked at the censuses for some of the Capitol Quarter blocks back to 1880. I have always though the the neighborhood was occupied by Navy Yard employees when employment peaked there around WWI, but that does not seem to be the case. Most of the residents were African American renters and the predominant occupations were "washerwoman," domestic servant, and laborer.

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City Government Data for Near Southeast Records added or updated recently displayed here; click the "archive" links to see additional detail and older records. All data from DC Government databases and RSS feeds. JDLand takes no responsibility for errors, omissions, etc. (read CapStat disclaimer). Data is retrieved daily.

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paving; streetfixture; excavation  
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1331 4TH ST SE    Forest City Forest City 
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excavation; new  
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1025 1ST ST SE   
12/03/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1590134 / HOME OCCUPATION
   
12/10/14 
KAREN NZAKIMUENA
PC74349112 / POST CARD
INSTALLATION OF NOT MORE THAN 1 NEW AIR CONDITIONING UNIT UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 10-TONS OF EQUIVALENT REFRIGERATING EFFECT.
1016 3RD ST SE   
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ANAMARIA R MOTTOLA / DIXON
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1212 4TH ST SE   
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FC 1212 LLC / SCHINDLER ELEVATOR CORP
ER1500593 / SHOP DRAWING
REPLACE MAXTON UC2A VALVE EST. COST OF WORK $ 2 2120. 00
927 5TH ST SE   
12/15/14 
AARON LORENZO
PC25919394 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT IN KIND OF EXISTING FENCE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. REPLACEMENT IN KIND WHEN APPLIED TO ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES MEANS REPLACEMENT WITH A FEATURE OF LIKE MATERIAL THAT REPLICATES THE EXISTING FEATURE IN PROPORTION APPEARANCE TEXTURE DESIGN DETAIL AND DIMENSIONS.
1000 5TH ST SE   
12/04/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / WALTER T JONES
E1501598 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1015 HALF ST SE   
12/10/14 
HALF STREET LLC / ART DISPLAY; BOB BIROONAK ART DISPLAY CO.
SG1400465 / CONSTRUCTION
ONE ILLUMINATED NEWS TICKER SIGN
1201 HALF ST SE   
12/10/14 
WEST HALF 1 LLC / MARK W GIBSON
E1501746 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/12/14 
JASON YORK
TN1500036 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALLING SMALL TENT ON DEC 29 2014 FOR THE BRIDGESTONE WINTER CLASSIC ON 1-1-15 WITH GENERATOR TENTS REMOVED ON 1-2-15
808 L ST SE   
12/10/14 
NAVY YARD ASSOCIATES LLC / KE-MAURELLE PREDDIE
B1412006 / CONSTRUCTION
NEW OFFICE USE FOR 1254 SQ. FT. EXISTING TWO STORIES PLUS BASEMENT STRUCTURE ON SE / C-3-A ZONING DISTRICT. MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING REMAIN AS IS.
80 M ST SE   
12/10/14 
WELLS REIT II 80 M STREET LLC / ANTHONY G SAMBURG
E1501724 / SUPPLEMENTAL
14 M ST SE   
12/16/14 
ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON / PHILLIP B. MOBLEY
FB1500047 / SUPPLEMENTAL
20 M ST SE   
12/04/14 
TRANSWESTERN JEFFREY GROSS / OLLIE READ; TRANSWESTERN JEFFREY GROSS; CHRISTOPHER SCHULZE
AR66514546 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/04/14 
TRANSWESTERN JEFFERY W GROSS / ANDREW ARNTSON; TRANSWESTERN JEFFERY W GROSS; ANDREW ARNTSON
P96600069 / SUPPLEMENTAL
80 M ST SE   
12/03/14 
MARY JACKSON
PC44081129 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT OF NOT MORE THAN 1 GAS APPLIANCE ON A RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
   
12/05/14 
WELLS REIT II 80 M STREET LLC /
P1501746 / SUPPLEMENTAL
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12/03/14 
SQUARE 743 INC. / SAM HOLLEN RAMCO OF DC INC.
B1502037 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION TO 4TH FLOOR OFFICE SPACE. SUBDIVIDE TENANT SPACE AND ADD PANTRY. PARTITIONS MEP AND LIFE SAFETY. NORTHWOOD INVESTORS LLC
202 M ST SE   
12/10/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA / WOODY WICKLIFFE
TN1500035 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL 50FT X 100FT TENT NO GENERATORS NO COOKING NO SMOKING NO STAGES 10FT X 70FT TENT INSTALLED DEC 11-15 2014 EVENTS DEC 12-14 2014 12:01PM - 9:00 PM
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12/11/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1500149 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
75 N ST SE   
12/11/14 
CRANE SERVICE CO / CHRISTINE LONG
AH1500150 / CONSTRUCTION
AN AFTER HOURS PERMIT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED FROM 2:00AM THRU 11:00PM
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
12/08/14 
SQUARE 737 LLC / GLENNWOOD ROGERS
P1501673 / SUPPLEMENTAL
25 POTOMAC AVE SE   
12/02/14 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS I LLC C/O ECC INC. / ECC INC.
UT1500007 / CONSTRUCTION
REMOVAL OF ONE 100-GALLON UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK DURING MASS EXCAVATION ACTIVITIES FOR SITE REDEVELOPMENT.
   
12/03/14 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS I LLC / WOODY WICKLIFFE
TN1500032 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL 40FT X 80FT TENT NO COOKING NO SMOKING NO PROPANE NO LIGHTING 40FT X 40FT TENT 2 GENERATORS 25KW EACH 20FT X 20FT TENT 8FT X 20FT PLATFORM 40FT X 40FT PLATFORM 20FT X 20FT PLATFORM INSTALLED DEC 8 -9 2014 EVENT DEC 9 2014 9AM - 4PM
   
12/05/14 
FLORIDA ROCK PROPERTIES INC / ROBERT S. WATTS
E1501658 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/05/14 
RIVERFRONT INVESTMENT PARTNERS / JASON BENTLEY
B1408697 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW 9 STORY BUILDING. THIRD PARTY REVIEW
1500 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
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NATIONALS PARK / MARK W GIBSON
E1501975 / SUPPLEMENTAL
300 TINGEY ST SE   
12/15/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / GREGORY BIRCKHEAD; FC BOILERMAKER LLC; MICHAEL BELL
E55526822 / SUPPLEMENTAL
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

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