Nightly News | April 02, 2012
>>> finally tonight, for those of us who are interested in who we are or how far our nation has come and how much we have changed in a very short time, the federal government today released a gold mine . they released the 1940 census, including what people told the census takers in their interviews about their lives, they pay, they living arrangements, and it shows we have changed so much in this relatively short period of time. in 1940 , we had survived a depregdz and fought a world war . and we had no way of knowing quite yet it would someday we called the first world war . in 1940 , it was still possible to see civil war veteran marching in your local memorial day parade, and that year, americans were told the census was mandatory.
>> 120,000 census takers are radiating across america .
>> the marketing slogan of the day was you cannot know your country unless your country knows you.
>> it's like going into a time kamsal and traveling into an america that has since disappeared. a lot fewer people with houses, a lot more farmers, a lot less education.
>> what we now know is the america of 1940 was still small . we have more than doubled since then. we were overwhelmingly white, still very rural, with very few college graduates. an astounding number of americans didn't have phones, indoor bathrooms or running water.
>> you can see in the numbers the rise of the sunbelt. 1940 , the big states were places like pennsylvania and ohio. now it's texas, california, florida.
>> another big development, we now have the web, and because the government has decided that so much time has passed that it shouldn't be confidential anymore, it's all there from 1940 . if you or someone you know took part in that census, you can search for it. that includes virla morris. she turns 100 this year. she took part in the 1940 census and can't wait to read her own details from back then.
>> i don't care what people know about me because it's an open book anyway.