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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in 1940 US Census (5)


    Princess Diaries: Looking for Answers in the 1940 US Census

    Princess Usha Holkar, The Maharani of Indore India, was one of my mother's playmates during the years that the Princess lived in Santa Ana, California with her father, the Maharajah of Indore and his second wife, American Marguerite Lawler.

    Mom remembered playing with the Princess's fabulous toys and dolls in a corner playroom under the watchful eye of her governess and birthday party snapshots show the girls together in party dresses. But, memories are a tricky thing, and it's been hard to pin down dates and places. I am looking for answers with the release of the 1940 U.S. Census to help figure out who lived where, and when.

    "Party Picture, 1912 N. Spurgeon, Santa Ana, Ca, Front Row L-R Patty Bright, 
    Kathy Bright, Susie [Brown], Usha, Fran in back sticking out tongue"

    This birthday photo shows Mom and her sister Frances with Princess Usha and three other little girls. In recent years, Mom remembered the event as her own birthday party, although when assembling her photo album in the 1940's she noted it as "Frances Party." Both sisters had January birthdays, and the address on the back of the photo adds to the confusion. I wrote more about this puzzle in Wordless Wednesday: Dating a Photo of Princess Usha at the Brown Girls' Party. The 1940 U.S. Census may hold a clue to the mystery.

    The Brown Family moved frequently, the census should help pinpoint where they were living on the census date and we can work back from there to January, 1940.

    More About the Brown Girls and Princess Usha

    Happy Birthday Princess Usha from your friend Susie Brown

    It's the Holiday Season at Princess Usha's Orange County House


    Photograph: "Party Picture" photograph, in Susie (Brown) Freeman Photo Album, ca. 1942, unpaginated; 
    privately held by Denise Levenick, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Pasadena, Caliifornia, 2010.


    Meet Mr. Palmer: A Very Excellent Reason to Index the 1940 U.S. Census

    Example of Palmer Penmanship

    1940 marked the end of the era of academic penmanship instruction in most American schools.

    Instead of learning the long-taught Palmer Pensmanship Method perfected by Austin Palmer which engages the entire arm and shoulder to form smooth, fluid pen strokes, students were taught the simpler block manuscript alphabet, otherwise known as "printing," followed by cursive handwriting when they reached mid-level elementary grades.

    Beginning in the 1940s, simple "Ball and Stick" manuscript printing
    replaced basic Palmer penmanship instruction in many U.S. schools. 

    Today, many schools have dropped all pretenses at formal penmanship or handwriting instruction. Students learn to print and are taught basic cursive, but there is little reinforcement or training as a follow-up. The emphasis has shifted from handwriting to keyboarding, and basic computer skills. But all is not lost!

    Although 1940 rang the death knell for Palmer Penmanship in the academic curriculum, the adult enumerators of the United States Census of that very year were, no doubt, previously prepared for their particular temporary vocation by the standard penmanship instruction of their youth -- the Palmer Method.

    Your participation as an indexer for the 1940 U.S. Census will give you a rare opportunity to personally examine remnants of past perfect Palmery with surviving examples of exemplary embellishment as exhibited throughout the 1940 U.S. Census by enumerators who were surely schooled in the standard of their time. This alone is reason enough to offer one's services in the indexing project. When one considers the added benefit of contributing one's time and talent to a most worthwhile project, it's the biggest no-brainer in the history of volunteerism.

    Until the pendelum swings back perfecting personal penmanship, we will have to enjoy such random glimpses of the past as demonstrated in the careful lines of the 1940 Census Ennumerator.


    Austin Palmer

    Ode to the Palmer Method

    Perfectly practical Palmer, master of muscular movement

    A classic style, a business skill that always paid the rent.

    We wrote with ease and speed, accuracy, endurance

    Lessons and drills were our employment assurance.


    And then came 1940, a new month, a new year,

    Progress marched in, Palmer's out on his ear.

    Block-letter Manuscript was the chime of the hour,

    Smooth cursive followed, nothing like Palmer Power.


    Dick and Jane were the model, for perfecting one's script

    Alas, Granddad Palmer was cut free and adrift

    To float away on the tide, proud, straight, and strong,

    Until April 2, 1940 at last rolled along.


    Then the world knew, saw with its own eyes

    The delightful legacy of the Palmer Penmanship Prize.

    Page after page in the United States Census

    Bore witness to Palmer and his good senses.


    Remarkably legible, long line after line

    The ennumerators handwriting could not be more fine.

    [well, mostly :>)]

    Sign up now to index the 1940 U.S. Census when it's released April 2, 2012, and enter the community project indexing practice contest for a chance to win a VISA Gift Card. No poetry required! It's easy and fun. Don't delay, this contest ends March 30, 2012.

    1940 U.S. Census Project Website -- Sign up to help index the census, participate in contests, learn more about the 1940 U.S. Census

    Gear Up to Index Game (March 19-30) -- Practice indexing a simulation census and you will have a chance to win a VISA Gift Card. Rules and registration information here.


    As part of the ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for weekly prize.

    Copyright, 2012 Denise Levenick


    Resource Roundup for the 1940 U.S. Census

    The present decade has a lot in common with 1940 especially when it comes to the Can Do Volunteer Spirit that is creating a stir of activity around April 2nd release of the U.S. Census. If everyone who has benefited from an indexed census report joins the volunteer corps to help index and promote this newest genealogical asset, the 1940 U.S. Census will be name-searchable in a matter of weeks.

    Online training and information is available 24-hours a day. Here's a round-up of the latest 1940 U.S. Census Resources:


    Official 1940 U.S. Census Project Website and Blog information and Indexing

    National Archives Official Website for Information on the 1940 Census and access to the digital images.

    National Archives free regional lecture schedule on the 1940 Census.

    US Census Bureau training films for 1940 Census enumerators.

    Using the 1940 U.S. Census

    How to Prepare for the 1940 U.S. Census by Thomas MacEntee at, a comprehensive overview of the census release and how to effectively search for your ancestors.

    Stephen P. Morse's comprehensive 1940 Search Engine. It's a lot easier than 9 to 5 with The Three Stooges.

    "Navigating the 1940 US Census" webinar from Legacy Family Tree presented by Thomas MacEntee, free until March 19, 2012.

    Online Census Secrets presented by Allison Dolan, Family Tree Magazine Publisher will feature where to find free census records and what to expect when the 1940 census is released.

    Nightly 1940 U.S. Census Webinar hosted by RootsMagic and Dear Myrtle April 2-6 to discuss first experiences in using the newly released records.

    Help Index the 1940 U.S. Census

    1940 U.S. Census Community Project website with links and helps for volunteers ready to index the census.

    Practice Indexing the 1940 U.S. Census "with simulated material provided by FamilySearch. The Getting Started guide provides comprehensive instructions for downloading the indexing software.




    The 1940 U.S. Census Stooges Style - No Census, No Feeling


    The Three Stooges In No Census, No Feeling, Part 1

    Those 1940 US Census Enumerators had a real job, just like Larry, Moe, and Curly, and they took it seriously.They needed a district map, detailed instructions, and a set of forms. They might have also needed comfortable shoes, lunch, and a thermos of hot coffee!

    The Three Stooges vaudeville act broke into feature films in 1930 with Soup to Nuts, and continued to build in popularity throughout the '40s with the growth of the Hollywood movie industry. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and Shemp Howard all played in the act during the decade. In 1949 the team made their first appearance on the newest entertainment medium, the television, with a series of shorts for the American Broadcasting Network.

    Larry, Moe, and Curly helped kick off the the 1940 census with their take on a day-in-the-life of a census enumerator for No Census, No Feeling, when they stop in at a society bridge club and take to the field of a college football game.

    Join Larry, Moe, and Curly as ambassadors for the 1940 U.S. Census. Volunteer to index this newest resource when it goes online April 2, 2012, and help promote the community indexing project through social media and blogging. Visit the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project homepage to see how you can get involved.

    The Three Stooges In No Census, No Feeling, Part 2



    Columbia Pictures, "The Three Stooges, No Census, No Feeling," YouTube, (accessed March 15, 2012).

    Wikipedia contributors, "The Three Stooges," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 15, 2012).

    Robert Davidson, "No Census, No Feeling," The Three Stooges Online Filmography, (accessed March 15, 2012).

    As part of the ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Gift Certificate.



    Join Up and Serve (Help Index the 1940 US Census)

    The 1940 US Census will be released in only a few short weeks. It's the first census where my parents are listed, and I am excited to see how their household is portrayed in that federal project. Unlike census records now available at online sites, the 1940 US Census is not yet indexed so it will take some special tactics to find our ancestors' listings.

    Fortunately, a massive effort is underway to bring make these records more accessible through a searchable index, and YOU can help. Anyone with an internet connection can participate in the indexing project by registering and joining in. I've indexed records at the FamilySearch website as part of an assignment for an online genealogy class and I found it to be easy to do and rewarding.

    Online census research has become a first-stop for so much genealogical research that it feels good to be contributing toward the "research pool" of the future. You can find out more information and register to join the indexing project at the 1940 US Census Community Project Website.

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