Census Taking in Pictures

By Maureen A. Taylor

My fingers are itching to start searching through the 1940 census. I’ve read that the National Archives website crashed due to the number of folks online doing the same thing. I’ll wait a bit and try again.

In the meantime, take a peek at some census-related images.


This image from the Library of Congress is a poster advertising that it was a patriotic duty to provide information for the census.


In another photo from the Library of Congress, two women operate a new census machine. The “unit tabulator” on the left is being operated by Ann Oliver. On the right is Virginia Balinger, Assistant Supervisor of the Inquiry section. (Love those shoes!)

According to the caption, in 1870 it took seven years to compile statistics from the census, but this machine invented by Herman Hollerith fed census cards at the rate of 400 per minute. This machine was going to compile those stats in 2-1/2 years. Each written bit of information was translated into codes that were punched on cards then fed into this machine.

Enjoy your searching!

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album