Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

This Is Who We Were: A Companion to the 1940 Census

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

This Is Who We Were: A Companion to the 1940 Census

Article excerpt

This is Who We Were: A Companion to the 1940 Census. By Scott Derks. Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2012. 458 p. $150 (ISBN 978-1-61925-007-9). E-book available (978-1-61925-008-6), call for pricing.

Studies of twentieth-century American history invariably include a lengthy examination of the "Greatest Generation," and rightfully so. Navigating the repercussions of worldwide economic calamity, struggling to survive the suffocating Dust Bowl, and witnessing the advent of another world conflict were just a few of the defining moments of that decade. In an effort to better understand this turbulent time period and the people that experienced it, This is Who We Were offers a statistical, cultural, and personal examination through the lens of the 1940 census.

This is Who We Were is organized into a lengthy preface, containing newspaper articles published shortly before and after the 1940 census that provide insight on issues pertaining to the census at the time of its release, and five subject-based sections. Highlights include biographical profiles of American citizens spanning geographic location and socio-economic standing; an economic snapshot of the decade listing prices of such items as an ice box, home egg hatcher, and a portable typewriter; and an impressive array of data tables collected from the 1940 census. While the information in each section is not organized in any particular manner, an index is included, which makes finding specific information within this volume a breeze.

Were this book simply a collection of data tables from the 1940 census, its usefulness would be suspect as such information can be found through numerous other sources. …

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