Saturday, September 10, 2011

WPA 1939 Los Angeles Household Census Records Online

In 1939, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted a household census in the city of Los Angeles. Almost 1/2 million record cards, most of which are household census cards, are held by the University of Southern California. Approximately 25% of the collection has been digitized and is online at the USC Digital Library.

The household census cards contain information regarding the dwelling including:

  • Type of dwelling
  • Amount of monthly rent or mortgage
  • Information about the dwelling, including number of room, whether there were flush toilets and running water, how the dwelling was heated, etc.
  • Length of time the occupant had resided there
  • Number of household members and their ages
  • Race of the household
  • Whether there were roomers or other families in residence

But NOT the name of the occupants! Click here to see a sample household census card.

Another small, but genealogically interesting, part of the collection are the 248 employee records. These are hiring documents for individuals who worked for the WPA whether as enumerators, supervisors or clerical staff. The cards include information such as name, age, residence, education, experience, number of dependents, and even whether the applicant owned a car! Click here to see a sample employee record.

Because of the naming protocol used for the images, the best method for searching the household census card is by street address; for employees, use a surname search.

If you had ancestors who lived in Los Angeles in 1939, you will want to check whether they were employed by the WPA; if not, perhaps you can locate a card that will give information about their home.

Wishing you many successes in your genealogy research,

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

1 comment:

  1. The 1939 census cards can still be very helpful if you have an address from another record to use for comparison/verification. Thank you for sharing.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)