New 1940 Census Indexes Added and Stories to Be Discovered

by Julie Hill

Posted on May 17, 2012

We are happy to announce that the 1940 census name indexes for three more states - Florida, Utah, and Wyoming - are now available for free at (Archives members can also search these records in the Member area.) These states join Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia as part of the quickly-growing 1940 census index.

These new indexes make it easier to find your family in the 1940 census - and to find the stories that are told there.

One of the countless stories in the 1940 census is that of the Hixon family in Albany County, Wyoming. Their entry chronicles their migrations through three states and shows the continued effects of the Great Depression.

hixon-family-1940census.jpg Lee Hixon was born about 1901 in Tennessee. His wife Alice was born in Colorado around 1907. They lived in Oklahoma, where daughter Irine was born around 1929. The family moved to Colorado before daughter Ruth Edna was born there around 1933. In 1935, the family lived in rural Garfield County, Colorado. Between 1935 and 1937, the Hixons moved to Wyoming, based on the age and place of birth listed for son Robert Lee.

Why did the family move so many times in such a short period of time? We can speculate that they, like countless other Americans during that time, moved in search of work. According to the 1940 census, Lee had been unemployed for 120 weeks.

Lee's occupation in 1940 was listed as "Labor W.P.A.," working in "Stock Farm Project." This is more evidence of the Great Depression. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs to put unemployed Americans to work on public works projects. It is possible that the "Stock Farm Project" that Lee Hixon worked on was the University of Wyoming's Experimental Stock Farm in Laramie.


Workers on a WPA road construction project.

It is tempting to look at just the names and relationships on the census. But when you look at all of the information on the five lines for the Hixon family, you see a story that was repeated by millions of American families in the 1930s and the early 1940s. You see the story of a young family, migration, unemployment, and perseverance.

Begin searching the 1940 census today at What does the 1940 census tell you about your family?

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