Searching Chicago's 1940
Czech & Slovak Neighborhoods

Information on searching for ancestors in the 1940 census, specifically for residents of Chicago's Czech & Slovak neighborhoods at that time, Pilsen and Lawndale.

What's the big deal about the 1940 census?

On April 2nd, 2012, records of the 1940 census will be made available. These records will be released free-of-charge for online searching, but without a name index. This means you can not search for ancestors by their name.

So how do you search the census if you can't do it by name?

In order to locate an individual, you will need to know their address in 1940. Using this address, you must search the corresponding Census enumeration district (ED) in which that address was located.

So what if I know where the person I am searching for lived in 1940?

If you know the 1940 address, you can use the 1940 Census ED Finder. This will give you the proper ED, and you can search that area beginning on April 2nd.

I'm not sure where they lived in 1940, but I do know where they lived according to the 1930 census.

If you know the 1930 ED, you can use the 1940 Census ED Finder. This will give you the proper ED for 1940, and you can search that area beginning on April 2nd.

What if I don't know where they were in 1930 or 1940?

If you think they may have lived in the Czech and Slovak neighborhoods of the lower-west side of Chicago in 1940, you can use the map below to find the appropriate districts to search.

How can I narrow my search?

Use any addresses you may have, including those from immigration and naturalization documents, voter registration records and social security applications. Other ideas are available from the National Archives.

What questions were asked on the 1940 census?

You can view all of the questions asked on this list.

What part of Chicago am I most likely to find my Czech and Slovak ancestors?

In 1940 the Czechs & Slovaks of Chicago were concentrated in the near lower-west side of downtown Chicago. This area includes the neighborhoods of Pilsen and South Lawndale.

Were there other areas of Chicago with Czech and Slovak neighborhoods?

There were, including those on the far-north side and farther south-east. But neither of these were as large or as concentrated as the near lower-west side. In 1940 the near-western suburbs also were seeing an increased number of Czechs and Slovaks.

What if the neighborhood I'm searching for isn't part of the map below?

You can search all of the Chicago enumeration district maps for the 1940 census online through the National Archives.

What if I would like to find geographic descriptions of the district boundaries?

You can search the archives for Chicago to find descriptions. A sample of this document can be found on the right.

What exactly is the number I need to know when searching the 1940 census?

You need to know the enumeration district (ED) number. For Chicago in 1940, these range from 103-1 to 103-3270. There are other numbers associated with the census (such as tract numbers), but the ED is what you need.
Note: On the map below, the prefix "103-" must be added to the number shown.

If I know the district I want to search, why do I need a map?

Even if you know exactly where you should be looking, you may want to look close to that home for other relatives. The geography of the districts do not follow an orderly numbering system, so the map helps broaden out a search. For those not sure where to search, the map can be used as a checklist as the search is narrowed.

So can I just e-mail you a name so you can look it up?

No. Find an address, use that address to find the enumeration district (ED), and use that to start searching on April 2nd.

Where is more information available if I'm still confused?

More information is available from Steve Morse, National Archives and

What's wrong with just waiting for an index to be available?

Nothing, if that's your choice. Even when an index does become available, it will only be as good as the transcription. Many people living in this area had last names that are easily transcribed incorrectly.