Seventy-two-year-old secrets were revealed today with the release of the 1940 census by the National Archives and Records Administration. While there are some 3.8 million digital images of census records to pore over, a broader then-and-now picture from 1940 has already emerged.
The Census data was anticipated with excitement in large part because of the parallels that can be drawn between today and the pivotal year that was 1940.
In that year, some Americans were still stuck in the Great Depression, but many others were finally finding their way out. While wartime was ultimately responsibly for bring prosperity to 1940s America, historians are hoping for they will find others lessons, too, in how to bring back a halcyon time.
In an effort to be more accessible digitally, the Census Bureau has created infographics to show how much (or how little) has changed since that year.
The five most populous states are very different today than they were in 1940.
We’ve become more diverse.
Far more people have access to education, and women have gotten a little bit closer to earning as much as men in the workplace.
There has been much dramatic upheaval in our top industries, with manufacturing and agriculture shrinking, and education, health care and social services growing.
Our houses have drastically changed, too. We pay much more for homes, but get a far better quality of life in return.
And as expected, the ranks of unmarried men and women in America have grown.
Learn more about the 1940 census in the video below, or read about how to search the records here.