, Muskogee, OK


April 1, 2012

Muskogee during the 1940 Census

Our local city directory and newspaper microfilm at Muskogee Public Library is a great way to get a look at Muskogee during the 1940 census. These census images will be available to the public for the first time Monday.

The 1940 Polk City Directory reports a population of 32,026. Statistics show that a total of 7,547 telephones were in service, two daily newspapers, seven hotels, five railroads and one airport.

The U.S. Veterans Administration Facility including a 400-bed hospital, and the Federal Building, touted as the “handsomest building in the state,” are two of the amenities listed. Schools include the Oklahoma School for the Blind, Pearson School for exceptional children and Bacone University for Indians.

There were four hospitals with a total of 578 beds. There were 17 public schools, one senior high and one junior high. Pupils numbered 8,218. Oklahoma ranked 22nd in population with 2,336,434 residents. Some of the local businesses were: Calhoun Dry Goods Co., 201 W. Broadway; Pioneer Abstract and Trust Co., 214 N. Fourth St.; Superior Mattress Co., 426 Fond Du Lac; Citizen’s National Bank, 4th and Broadway; Hope Lumber & Supply Co., 111-121 E. Okmulgee; and Kuykendall Pontiac Co., 418-422 Court St.

The Muskogee Daily Phoenix reported that the census was to begin on the first of April 1940 with 120,000 total census takers. Secretary Hopkins cautioned them that this was not to be an “inquisition,” but a cooperative effort of a free people for the common welfare.

There was at least one opponent to the census. Senator Tobey of New Hampshire criticized it as an “invasion of personal liberties.” The questions covered a wide range of topics including the person’s age to how much acreage he had in a farm crop.

Occuring after the depression, the questions asked details about unemployment, income and migration in the last five years.

On April 2, 1940, the Muskogee Daily Phoenix reported some 206 enumerators will begin taking census in Muskogee and elsewhere in the 2nd Congressional District. Fifty-six were to work in Muskogee County. The census was expected to be completed in towns in two weeks and in rural districts in a month.

On April 3, one woman enumerator in Illinois had delivered a baby while another had to keep track of 22 children in one family.

Two enumerators called on President Roosevelt at the White House. The picture is in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix on the April 4, 1940, Page 1.

Listed as the “head of household at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave., the President admitted he did not know the answers to all the questions about the staff and that the questions for the agricultural census would be answered at Hyde Park were he maintained his legal residence.”

Muskogee City Directories and Muskogee Daily Phoenix microfilm are just two of the sources you can find in the Genealogy/Local History Department at Muskogee Public Library. Come by the department from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 2 to celebrate the release of the 1940 census.

Jere Harris works in the Genealogy & Local History Department of the Muskogee Public Library. You can reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 257.

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