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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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Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
200 B/O VIRGINIA AVE SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT /  07/10/14
900 B/O HALF ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/10/14
100 B/O M ST SE   THEFT /  07/09/14
4TH ST SE AND L ST SE   ROBBERY /  07/08/14
800 B/O POTOMAC AVE SE   THEFT /  07/07/14
300 B/O K ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/07/14
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT /  07/05/14
100 B/O L ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/04/14
1100 B/O 2ND PLACE SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/03/14
2ND PLACE SE AND I ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/02/14
70 B/O I ST SE   ROBBERY / GUN  07/02/14
200 B/O I ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/02/14
400 B/O M ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT /  06/30/14
UNIT B/O M ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  06/30/14
70 B/O I ST SE   THEFT /  06/29/14

Active Public Space Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
08/26/14
1331 2ND ST SE    Carlton Ray 
Assigned
paving; streetfixture; excavation  
 02/10/14
to
02/09/15
804 3RD ST SE    Maximiliano Villagra 
Issued
streetfixture; new  
 08/05/14
to
08/06/14
904 3RD ST SE    Janel Fitzhugh 
Issued
streetfixture; new  
 07/01/14
to
08/14/14
908 3RD ST SE    Rachel Frankel 
Issued
streetfixture; new  
 07/24/14
to
09/21/14
1026 3RD ST SE    Wash Gas & Light Co. 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
09/04/14
1331 4TH ST SE    Forest City Forest City 
Issued
excavation; new  
 01/10/14
to
02/10/15
913 5TH ST SE    Wash Gas & Light Co. 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
08/28/14
1100 - 1199 BLOCK 1ST ST SE    tom cash 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/27/14
to
08/25/14
410 M ST SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 07/11/14
to
09/08/14
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/20/14
to
08/22/14
880 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    WASHINGTON GAS 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/17/14
to
08/17/14
    WASHINGTON GAS 
Issued
excavation; new  
 07/28/14
to
09/26/14
1105 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    Wash Gas & Light Co. 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/13/14
to
08/11/14
301 TINGEY ST SE    Potbelly Sandwich Works LLC 
Issued
new  
 03/21/12
to
11/27/14

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1025 1ST ST SE   
07/26/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1490737 / HOME OCCUPATION
1100 1ST ST SE   
07/15/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1490710 / HOME OCCUPATION
1212 4TH ST SE   
07/11/14 
FC 1212 LLC /
P1406926 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
07/14/14 
MIKE LENARD / BHAR; W. SAKIE BHAR
SG1400363 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL ONE SET OF BUILDING SIGN ON TO EXISTING BUILDING
1331 4TH ST SE   
07/09/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / RONALD C. CAYTON
E1406628 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1103 9TH ST SE   
07/25/14 
ICP PARTNERS POTOMAC 810 LLC / TALBERT DOWLING
E1407537 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1220 12TH ST SE   
07/16/14 
FAIRBANKS MORSE ENGINE / EVAN O'BRIEN/ D MCKEEVER SERVICES
B1409041 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR ALTERATION TO EXISTING 2578 SF OFFICE SPACE. AFFECTED AREA LESS THAN 1000 SF TO CREATE DEMISING WALL AND MINOR ALTERATIONS TO PARTITION PLAN IN CONFERENCE AREA. MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL WORK INCLUDED.
326 L ST SE   
07/17/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1490715 / HOME OCCUPATION
55 M ST SE   
07/16/14 
HINES GLOBAL REIT 55 M STREET LLC / TYRAN D. BRANNUM
E1407255 / SUPPLEMENTAL
20 M ST SE   
07/17/14 
SOUTHEAST REALTY LLC / JOHN GIUSEPPE-RAMCO
TL1400132 / CONSTRUCTION
FIRST TIME TENANT BUILDOUT FOR FAST FOOD ESTABLISHMENT - SUBWAY SANDWICH SHOP SEATING 41 AS SHOWN ON THE ATTACHED ARCH. MECH. PLUMB. ELECT AND FIRE PROTECTION DWGS. INTERIOR WORK ONLY.
55 M ST SE   
07/15/14 
HINES
B1409693 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL 6 AUTOMATIC DOOR OPERATORS LOCATED AT THE ELEVATOR LOBBIES BETWEEN THE 4TH-7TH FLOORS
901 M ST SE   
07/15/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400584 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
1201 M ST SE   
07/15/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400585 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
07/14/14 
NEW JERSEY AT H LLC / COLIN CLARK
B1409654 / CONSTRUCTION
REVISION TO PERMIT #SH1400039 FOR A OWNERSHIP CHANGE
   
07/28/14 
WC SMITH CO. / COLIN CLARK
FD1400040 / CONSTRUCTION
FOOTINGS AND FOUNDATIONS TO GRADE FOR A FUTURE APARTMENT BUILDING
1000 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
07/11/14 
CAPITOL HILL TOWER HOUSING COOPERATIVE INCF / RICHARD G. FINFROCK
P1406902 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
07/11/14 
CAPITOL HILL TOWER HOUSING COOPERATIVE INCF / BRANDON K VIERNES
M1402531 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
07/22/14 
CAPITOL HILL TOWER HOUSING COOPERATIVE INCF / DONALD R. MCGLYNN
E1407426 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1236 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
07/11/14 
1244 SOUTH CAPITOL RESIDENTIAL LLC / GEOCAPITOL ENGINEERING LLC
SB1400340 / CONSTRUCTION
WE PROPOSE DRILLING THREE SIX-INCH DIAMETER GEOTECHNICAL TEST BORINGS USING THE HOLLOW STEM AUGER METHOD TO EVALUATE THE SUBSURFACE CONDITIONS. THE PROPOSED TEST BORING DEPTHS WILL BE 80 FEET BELOW THE EXISTING GROUND SURFACE. DRILLING EQUIPMENT WILL BE DECONTAMINATED BETWEEN EACH HOLE TO AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATION THROUGHOUT THE SITE. UPON COMPLETION THE GEOTECHNICAL TEST BORINGS WILL BE BACKFILLE...
1244 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
07/11/14 
1244 SOUTH CAPITOL RESIDENTIAL LLC / GEOCAPITOL ENGINEERING LLC
SB1400341 / CONSTRUCTION
WE PROPOSE DRILLING TWO SIX-INCH DIAMETER GEOTECHNICAL TEST BORINGS USING THE HOLLOW STEM AUGER METHOD TO EVALUATE THE SUBSURFACE CONDITIONS. THE PROPOSED TEST BORING DEPTHS WILL BE 80 FEET BELOW THE EXISTING GROUND SURFACE. DRILLING EQUIPMENT WILL BE DECONTAMINATED BETWEEN EACH HOLE TO AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATION THROUGHOUT THE SITE. UPON COMPLETION THE GEOTECHNICAL TEST BORINGS WILL BE BACKFILLED ...
300 TINGEY ST SE   
07/23/14 
CM-YARDS LLC / DWIGHT SMITH
B1408815 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL OUTSIDE SEATING SUMMER GARDEN.
201 TINGEY ST SE   
07/11/14 
JBG COMPANIES / GEORGE DELGADO
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ONE DAY SPECIAL EVENT FOR BMW SHOW--150 OCCUPANTS EXTERNAL GENERATOR RESTROOMS AND LIGHTING BAY DOORS TO REMAIN OPEN DURING FUNCTION
   
07/22/14 
JBG/SEFC 170 LLC / MICHAEL B. BELL
E1407422 / SUPPLEMENTAL
300 TINGEY ST SE   
07/10/14 
FORREST CITY AT THE YARDS / CRIS FLACK
TL1400123 / CONSTRUCTION
REVISION TO B1402734 FOR REVISIONS TO MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS.
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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