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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.

Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
200 B/O L ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/30/14
L ST SE AND 2ND ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/30/14
70 B/O I ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT /  07/29/14
70 B/O I ST SE   THEFT /  07/29/14
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT /  07/28/14
400 B/O K ST SE   THEFT /  07/24/14
1000 B/O 1ST ST SE   THEFT /  07/23/14

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
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
880 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    WASHINGTON GAS 
Issued
excavation; new  
 07/28/14
to
09/26/14
301 TINGEY ST SE    Potbelly Sandwich Works LLC 
Issued
new  
 03/21/12
to
11/27/14

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE   
08/06/14 
TOLL DC LP / MITCH A. PERMUY
E1407892 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/11/14 
TOLL DC LP / ALBERT J. PEARCE
FB1400108 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1259 1ST ST SE   
08/11/14 
CAPITAL RIVERFRONT HOTEL LLC / CAPITAL RIVERFR HOTEL LLC
AH1400636 / CONSTRUCTION
AFTER HOURS FOR PERMIT NUMBER B1401471 FOR 8 / 12 THROUGH 9 / 11 FROM 5AM TO 7PM MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY.
1212 4TH ST SE   
08/07/14 
TAKOREAN / FVI 2020
B1410615 / CONSTRUCTION
REVISION TO TL1400052 TO INCLUDE OUTDOOR SUMMER GARDEN WITH 14 SEATS AND 7 TABLES.
1201 4TH ST SE   
08/12/14 
JBG/FEDERAL CENTER LIC / JIM CALABRESE
AN1400129 / CONSTRUCTION
PLEASE EXTEND PERMIT AN1300174 THIS IS THE FIRST EXTENSION AND PERMIT WILL BE VALID UNTIL 1 / 31 / 2015.
1212 4TH ST SE   
08/05/14 
FC 1212 LLC / THE YARDS
TL1400165 / CONSTRUCTION
FIRST TIME TENANT LAYOUT FOR NEW MANAGEMENT OFFICE 2ND FLOOR TOTAL OF 780 SQ FT RENOVATION LIMIT TO MECHANICAL ELECTRIC AND FIRE LIFE SAFETY ONLY
1331 4TH ST SE   
08/14/14 
F. C. 1331 LLC / FVI 2020
B1402843 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION OF A BRAND NEW 11 STORY BUILDING. THE BUILDING IN TOTAL IS 350 000 SQ FT. ADDING 327 RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNITS 20 000 SQ FT. IN COMMERCIAL SPACE AND 3 BELOW GRADE PARKING LEVELS.
   
08/15/14 
CLARK CONCRETE
AH1400650 / CONSTRUCTION
AFTER HOURS TO POUR CONCRETE ON JOBSITE FROM 7AM TO 7PM FROM SUNDAY TO SATURDAY 8 / 15 / 2014 TO 11 / 15 / 2014
1000 5TH ST SE   
08/07/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / KIM MITCHELL CDKM CONSULTING LLC
FD1400029 / CONSTRUCTION
FOUNDATION TO GRADE TO INCLUDE UTILITIES
   
08/13/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA /
FD1400132 / CONSTRUCTION
NEW FOUNDATION TO GRADE PERMIT FOR NEW COMMUNITY CENTER INCLUDING UTILITIES. REVISION TO FD1400029 TO REVISE STRUCTURAL DETAILS OF COLUMS.
   
08/20/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / BRUCE G. PICKETT
E1408304 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1015 HALF ST SE   
08/12/14 
HALF ST SE LLC / SAM HOLLEN RAMCO OF DC INC.
TL1400162 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR TENANT LAYOUT OF 1ST FLOOR PERFORMANCE STUDIO SPACE AND OFFICE SPACE. PARTITIONS FURNITURE MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL AND LIFE SAFETY. CBS
   
08/15/14 
HALF ST SE LLC / ROBERT L HUNTER
M1402951 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/16/14 
SAM HOLLEN / DONALD VEALS; SAM HOLLEN; DONALD VEALS
E83010192 / SUPPLEMENTAL
200 I ST SE   
08/08/14 
DANIEL RILEY / OMAR BIAGAS; DANIEL RILEY; JOHN BIAGAS
E47247428 / SUPPLEMENTAL
41 L ST SE   
08/20/14 
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY (WMATA) / SAMIR ALQUTRI - GEOTECHNICAL SOLUTIONS INC.
SB1400402 / CONSTRUCTION
GSI PLANS TO DRILL 4 SOIL TEST BORINGS TO CONFIRM SOIL STRENGTH WITH A HOLLOW-STEM AUGER EQUIPPED WITH A SPLIT SPOON SAMPLER FOR THE SPT N-VALUE TESTS DOWN TO A MAXIMUM DEPTH OF 80 FEET BELOW EXISTING GRADES. ALL BORINGS WILL BE DRILLED TO THE MAXIMUM DEPTH OR AUGER REFUSAL WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST. THE BORE HOLES DIMENSION WILL BE 3.25 INCHES AND SHALL BE GROUTED UPON COMPLETION.
601 L ST SE   
08/06/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / JOSEPH M MAGNOLIA
P1407161 / SUPPLEMENTAL
20 M ST SE   
08/06/14 
SOUTHEAST REALTY LLC /
P1407613 / SUPPLEMENTAL
100 M ST SE   
08/06/14 
SQUARE 743 INC /
P1407610 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/16/14 
NORTHWOOD INVESTERS LLC / STANLEY HUBBARD; NORTHWOOD INVESTERS LLC; STANLEY HUBBARD
E14516088 / SUPPLEMENTAL
901 M ST SE   
08/14/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400642 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
1201 M ST SE   
08/14/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400641 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
1111 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
08/12/14 
NJA ASSOCIATES LLC / COLIN CLARK
B1308085 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCT A NEW 13 STORY APARTMENT BUILDING WITH THREE BELOW GRADE PARKING LEVELS FIRST FLOOR RETAIL A PRIVATE SWIMMING POOL PROJECTIONS OF BAY WINDOWS 324 UNITS TO INCLUDE MECHANICAL PLUMBING ELECTRICAL AND ELEVATOR WORK.
1500 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
08/04/14 
LIVE NATION / DAVID VEGA
AH1400629 / CONSTRUCTION
TO CLOSE OFF STREETS FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING OF STADIUM EVENTS 7PM - 7AM
300 TINGEY ST SE   
08/05/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / PHILLIP B MOBLEY
M1402818 / 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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