Today the National Archives and Records Administration will digitally release 1940 United States census data.
Some data was released in that year, but federal law allows a complete release of data only after 72 years.
University of Georgia Demographer, Dr. Douglas Bachtel says it’s a windfall for scholars:
“Demographers, we live for this stuff! We're data junkies, we love this. It's a tremendous treasure trove of information. And it's extremely useful because it's important to understand where we've been.”
Bachtel says the data will provide new insight into Georgians’ lives during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Anyone with Internet access can peruse the occupation, salary, family lineage, migration history and more of American families during that decade.
Dr. Stan Deaton of the Georgia Historical Society says some of the information is very personal.
"They ask, for instance, not just where you lived in 1940, but where did you live in 1935? Was it different? Do you have a job today, but, in general, what is your occupation?"
Deaton says Georgia census data could bear surprises. There could be information illustrating immigration and migration patterns related to agricultural labor. The so-called "Great Migration" of African-Americans from southern states like Georgia may also be illustrated in the data.