American Icons in the 1940 Census

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on April 5, 2012

The 1940 Census recorded information about the approximately 132 million people that lived in the United States on April 1, 1940. Whether rich, famous, or toiling in anonymity, they are listed somewhere in the 3.8 million pages of the census. is proud of its partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to provide free access to the 1940 Census at

Beyond its use as a tool for learning about our ancestors, the 1940 Census also lets us in on the lives of celebrities, often long before they achieved fame. Megan Smolenyak and Amy Johnson Crow of found these American icons on

Betty White, 18 years old in Los Angeles:
betty white 1940 census

Neil Armstrong, 9 years old in St. Marys, Ohio:
neil armstrong 1940 census

Hugh Hefner, 13 years old in Chicago:
hugh hefner 1940 census

Nick and Rosemary Clooney, living with their grandparents in Maysville, Kentucky:
nick and rosemary clooney 1940 census

Johnny Cash, as 8-year-old John R. Cash, in Dyess, Arkansas:
johnny cash 1940 census

To see a slideshow with the full images, check out Megan's article on the Huffington Post.

You have to wonder if these celebrities' friends and neighbors ever imagined that these youngsters would grow up to be world famous. Of course, the real thrill is finding the people most important to you--your ancestors. Who have you found?

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