The 1940 census is here!! I will have to admit that after all the hype, I was a little disappointed (but not surprised) that I wasn't able to get in to the NARA website to view images. As the National Archives put it the following day, they were expecting a tidal wave and got hit with a tsunami!
The first census discovery I wanted to make was finding my mother, Mary Elizabeth Stoelt, living with her parents on 14883 Faust in Detroit, Michigan. Using Steve Morse's website, I was able to narrow down the Enumeration Districts to 1604A and 1604B. When I was finally able to view images on the day after the release, I scrolled through 32 pages of ED 1604A and 8 pages of ED 1604B before I found them.
I was surprised by a number of things on this census. The circled X next to my grandmother's name meant that she was the one giving the information to the census taker. However, given that she was a high school English teacher, the errors are surprising. My grandfather's middle initial was A, not L, and Ervilla's name is spelled Ervilia. This leads me to believe that my grandmother was answering the census taker's question orally, and that the answers were written down as they were heard.
It was also interesting to see that their housekeeper was enumerated with the family. I remember my mother talking about Bernice, but I was under the impression that she was black, and came in for the day. According to the 1940 census, Bernice Robinson was a 26 year old white woman, born in Michigan, who lived with the family. My mother's family needed the help, because both her father and stepmother worked full-time; Arnold Stoelt was a printer at the Detroit Free Press and Ervilla taught school.
It was at once satisfying, and strange, and sad, to see my mother's name on her first census record. She missed being on the 1930 census by a year (my father missed it by 4 days). I have lots of memories visiting that ivy-covered brick house in Detroit when I was a young girl, and now I have another picture in mind - of my grandmother Ervilla, standing in the front door of that house, answering the census-taker's questions.
Mary Elizabeth Stoelt in 1942, holding her baby sister Ethel.