Finding a 1940 Enumeration District (ED) number

I found Walt Disney’s 1940 ED number! Thanks to Steve Morse’s ‘One Step’ website, family historians have some great tools to work with before the 1940 U.S. census is released and indexed. These tools are easy to use but may take some practice.

For the first time in history, census images will be available online the same day of release, Apr. 2nd, 9 a.m. (Eastern Time). However, no one in the genealogical community has been able to view, much less index, these records due to confidentiality laws. Perhaps you are one of many who have signed up to help with the indexing effort. It will take about 3 weeks for the images to be processed for indexing and a complete index will likely take about 6 months. If you are anxiously waiting for information in the 1940 census, a few months may seem an incredidly long time.

Below are some examples of how find a 1940 ED using some tools on the ‘One Step’ site in preparation for the census release.

To use the ‘One Step’ tools, family historians must first do a preliminary search to find the 1940 location or street address, such as might be found in city directories, voter registration and vital records, etc. If the family did not move between 1930 and 1940 census, then it would be good to locate and note the ED number shown on the 1930 census as well. Many ED numbers are not the same in 1940. That’s where the ‘One Step’ tools come in handy.

‘Conversion’ Tool: If you have located a person in the 1930 census and the 1940 location is the same, make note of all the location information such as ED number, street address and other information, as applicable. From the main ‘One Step’ page:

  • Click: ‘US Census’ to find tools applicable to census records.
  • Click: 1920-1930-1940 ED Finder/Converter:
  • ‘Select a state’ from the window and a new screen will appear.
  • ‘Select a 1930 ED’ from the county window and in the number window select the 1930 number that you found.

Note: The ED number is made up of two parts, the ‘prefix’ (county  number) and the ‘suffix’ (area within the county). Many large cities have their own ‘prefix’ numbers.

  • The 1940 ED number will appear. Make note of the number or numbers. There may be more than one possibility. For example: the 1930 Sacramento County ED 34-45 converts to EDs 34-83 and 34-91A&B in 1940.

When census images are available online, go to the National Archives partner website (actual site to be announced) or to a regional center. Use the 1940 ED number(s) located through the conversion tool (above) to find the correct group(s) of ED images and browse through until the census record is found. There are approximately 40-60 census images in a group so browsing should not take a lot of time. You should be rewarded by looking upon the 1940 census for your family!

‘Large Cities’ Tool: Another way to find 1940 ED numbers in large cities is by using a street address or street name together with map information. I selected two real life examples to illustrate the use of this tool: finding the 1940 ED numbers for Walt Disney’s address in Los Angeles and the White House in Washington, D.C.

Walt Disney moved to a new address ‘4053 Woking Way’ after 1930 (according to the city directory), so his 1930 address was not helpful for the ‘Conversion’ tool. And, unfortunately, ‘Woking Way’ was not found in the street list on the ‘One Step’ site as many smaller streets are not listed there. The following method works well in that situation.

The street address was located on a map (modern maps can be used unless street names change). The four larger streets were identified to the north, east, south and west of the address. Then, the larger streets were entered at the ‘Large Cities’ tool to find the ED number. (If street names change between 1930 and 1940, further investigation will be necessary).

In this example, Walt Disney’s address ‘4053 Woking Way’ was located on Yahoo’s online maps (also links to Google and MapQuest).

The larger streets were identified as: Farmouth Dr. (top), Lowry Rd. (right), Crowell Ave., (bottom),Commonwealth Ave. (left).

Results: ED 60-78A (per below). The results were also confirmed using the ‘ED Map’ tool (below).

Enter streets at the ‘Obtaining EDs for the 1940 Census in One Step (Large Cities)’ tool:

  • Select: Names of state and city in ‘drop-down’ windows
  • Select: Street names (refers to ‘cross’ or ‘back’ streets) in window, one at a time (look for streets closest to the address)

Note: As you enter street names, ED number results shown will be less. This is desirable.

  • A message will appear: ‘The ED number you want is ___.’

Note: Currently, there is a link to view the census, but of course, images are not yet available. However, there is a link to ‘view’ for the ‘T’ number (not shown), where you can look at the 1940 ED description to see if it closely matches your area you of interest.

Finding the 1940 ED number for the White House: The ‘Large Cities’ tool is also useful to narrow possibilities down to just one ED number. Herbert Hoover, President, and household is shown in the White House in 1930 U.S. census in ED 1-66. Using the ‘Conversion’ tool resulted in three possible ED numbers: 1-74, 1-75A, 1-76. Which one is correct? The ‘Unified’ tool listed as ‘Unified 1940 Census Finder: Obtaining EDs for a 1940 Location in One Step.’ was also tried, where a specific address could be entered. Results showed the same three possibilities.

By entering in the streets near the White House (same method as for Disney example above), the results showed just one number, ED 1-74. Because the address was on Pennsylvania, three streets were used: 17th, Pennsylvania Ave NW & Constitution.

National Archives,

Then by using the ‘ED Map’ tool (below), the 1940 ED Map was located at the National Archives website showing the ‘Executive Mansion.’ Notice that the ED number is very faint but it is readable. This is a more realistic search possibility!

When I am able to browse the images online for the group with ED 1-74, I can expect to see the residents of the White House in 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and family – without a name idex!

‘ED Map’ Tool:

The ‘ED Map’ tool, listed as ‘1940 ED Maps: Viewing 1940 ED Maps in One Step’ is a very helpful tool because it links directly to the National Archives Archival Research Catalog ‘ARC’ site with references relevant to your selected search area and just one more ‘click’ displays the individual ED maps. There might be several links with just numbers and no text identification but it is more convenient than searching the ‘ARC’ site.

For smaller cities and rural areas, use the ‘ED Definition Tool’, listed as ‘1880-1940 ED Definitions: Obtaining 1880 to 1940 ED definitions in One Step.’ This will usually result in more than one ED number, even in smaller areas. You can use keywords to help narrow your possibilities

Hopefully, these examples will help you with finding the 1940 ED numbers for your family!

To see Steve Morse’s recent article , ‘Getting Ready for the 1940 Census, Searching without a Name Index,’ go to:

Junel Davidsen, CG © 2012

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