Associated Press

Countless people were thrilled about the release of the 1940 U.S. Census records on April 2. Shortly following the release of the records, the National Archives received more than 37 million hits, causing serious website problems. More than 132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940, and tens of millions of those people are still living today, making the census a record that connects people with recent family records. This generation has been called the "Greatest Generation" for surviving the Great Depression and fighting in World War II. In an effort to better relate to this time in U.S. history, we have compiled a list of interesting facts from 1940. Related: 1940 U.S. Census videos tell stories

President of the United States
Associated Press

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to his third term as President of the United States with running-mate Henry. A Wallace. They received 54.7 percent of the popular vote to defeat the Republican nominee, Wendell Willkie, who ran with Charles L. McNary.

Photo caption: Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Rev. Frank R. Wilson as president leave St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park, New York on July 7, 1940, after attending vestry meeting after church service.

Associated Press

The United States population was 132,164,569.

Photo caption: Some of the thousands of persons who packed Times Square in New York, Nov. 5, 1940, in the excitement of the presidential election.


There were 48 states in the Union. Alaska and Hawaii would be admitted in 1959.

Most populous cities
Associated Press

1. New York, N.Y.

2. Chicago, Ill.

3. Philadelphia, Pa.

4. Detroit, Mich.

5. Los Angeles, Calif.

6. Cleveland, Ohio

7. Baltimore, Md.

8. St. Louis, Mo.

9. Boston, Mass.

10. Pittsburgh, Pa.

Photo caption: In this view looking north from the New York Times building in New York, a crowd estimated at 500,000 gathers to usher in the new year, Dec. 31, 1940.

Life expectancy
Associated Press

Average life expectancy: 62.9 years
Male: 60.8 years
Female: 65.2 years

Photo caption: In this photo provided by the National Archives at College Park, an enumerator, left, interviews a family outside a rail car for the 1940 Census.

Higher education
Associated Press

Only about 25 percent of the male population completed four years of high school and less than 10 percent completed four years of college in 1940. Similarly, about 25 percent of the female population completed four years of high school and less than five percent completed four years of college in 1940.

Photo caption: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, left, with John Lloyd Newcomb, president of University of Virginia (also in cap and gown) before he spoke at commencement exercises in Charlottesville, Virginia on June 11, 1940.


Average Annual Salary: $1,900
Minimum wage: 30 cents/hour

The draft
Associated Press

The draft registration of approximately 16 million men began in the United States.

Photo caption: Tending their show cattle at the state fair grounds in Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1940, these lone star cowhands, put lariats aside to register for military selective service with registrar W.A. Cole.

Fast food
Associated Press

The first McDonalds restaurant opened in San Bernardino, Calif.

Baby names

Popular baby names for boys included James, Robert, John, William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald.

Popular names for girls included Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan.

Cost of common items

Car: $800
Gasoline: 18 cents/gal
House: $6,550
Bread: 8 cents/loaf
Milk: 34 cents/gal
Postage stamp: 3 cents

Birth year of famous individuals
Associated Press

Tom Brokaw, American TV news reporter

Chuck Norris, American actor and martial artist

Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Al Pacino, American actor

Alex Trebek, Canadian game show host

Martin Sheen, American actor

John Lennon, British musician and singer

Photo caption: Actor Al Pacino is shown in this 1969 photo.


The price of a movie ticket in 1940 was 24 cents.

Some of the most popular movies included "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "The Third Man," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Grapes of Wrath."

Also, Disney's animated films "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia" were released.

Academy Award winners
Associated Press

Best Picture: "Rebecca," David O. Selznick, United Artists

Best Director: John Ford, "The Grapes of Wrath"

Best Actor: James Stewart, "The Philadelphia Story"

Best Actress: Ginger Rogers, "Kitty Foyle"

Best Supporting Actor: Walter Brennan, "The Westerner"

Best Supporting Actress: Jane Darwell, "The Grapes of Wrath"

Photo caption: Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart hold the Oscars they won for best actress and best actor, respectively, at the 13th Annual Academy Awards, March 3, 1941, in Los Angeles, Calif. Miss Rogers was chosen for her portrayal in "Kitty Foyle"; Jimmy Stewart in the "The Philadelphia Story."

Movie stars
Associated Press

Bette Davis was popular in her roles in many movies, including "Dark Victory" and "The Letter."

Other popular actresses included Ingrid Bergman, Judy Garland and Lauren Bacall.

Humphrey Bogart was a popular actor in movies such as "Casablanca" and the "Maltese Falcon." Other famous actors in the 1940s included Cary Grant and James Stewart.

Photo caption: Actress Bette Davis in 1940.

Deseret News archives

Bugs Bunny made his official debut in "A Wild Hare."

Popular songs
Associated Press

1. In The Mood - Glenn Miller

2. When You Wish Upon a Star - Cliff Edwards

3. I'll Never Smile Again - Tommy Dorsey w/Frank Sinatra

4. Only Forever - Bing Crosby

5. Body & Soul - Coleman Hawkins

6. When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano - The Ink Spots

7. The Breeze and I - Jimmy Dorsey w/Bob Eberly

8. You Are My Sunshine - Jimmie Davis

9. When You Wish Upon a Star - Glenn Miller

10. Tuxedo Junction - Glenn Miller

Photo caption: Glen Miller, the famous band leader, at Arsene Studio in the Strand Theatre Building, Feb. 12, 1940.

Most popular car
Associated Press

The Chevy Special Deluxe was Chevrolet's best-seller, with 431,199 produced.

Photo caption: In this Sunday, April 4, 2010, picture, Paul Sherman sits in front of the 1940 Chevy Special Deluxe Coupe that he has owned since he was 16 at the 49th Annual Concours d'Elegance and Easter Car Show at Forest Park in St. Louis, Mo.


Women's nylon stockings were sold for the first time, with almost 5 million pairs sold on the first day.

Associated Press

The 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics, both scheduled to take place in Japan, were cancelled due to World War II.

Photo caption: A Japanese geisha recites in her English class in school in July 1938. She hopes to be able to speak to Americans in their own language when they come to Tokyo in 1940 for the Olympic game.

Associated Press

The Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL championship game.

Photo caption: Charlie Malone, (19), Washington Redskins End, pulls down a 42 yard pass from Sammy Baugh in the closing minutes of the first half of National Professional Football League Championship game with the Chicago Bears in Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 1940.

College football

The Minnesota Golden Gophers, Stanford Indians and Tennessee Volunteers shared the college football national championship.


The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, 4 games to 3.

Photo caption: Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers slides into second on his double in the third inning of the fourth World Series game with the Cincinnati Reds, Oct. 5, 1940. Reds second baseman Eddie Joost takes the relay with second baseman Buddy Myers backing up. Umpire is Red Ormsby.

Associated Press

The New York Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 2 to win the NHL’s Stanley Cup.

Motor racing
Weston Haynes, Associated Press

Wilbur Shaw won the 28th annual Indianapolis 500.

Photo caption: Wilbur Shaw of Indianapolis, 500-mile Speed race winner in 1937 and 1939, after he qualified for the Memorial Day race at Indianapolis, Indiana on May 18, 1940.

Associated Press

Jimmy Demaret won the Master Tournament; Lawson Little won the U.S. Open; and Byron Nelson won the PGA Championship.

Photo caption: From left to right are: “Babe” Ruth, Gene Tunney, Gene Sarazen and Jimmy Demaret, put the old debunker on the funeral silence that surrounds a golf match. They are putting the “hex” on Demaret as he tees-off. Fred Waring’s musicians are “swing it” while the “Babe” does the business on Demarat’s drive. The game was played at Norwalk, Connecticut, May 12, 1940, and Demaret came through with a par 72 to give himself and Ruth a 2 and 1 victory over Sarazen and Tunney.

Fiction best-sellers
Barnes & Noble

1. "How Green Was My Valley," Richard Llewellyn

2. "Kitty Foyle," Christopher Morley

3. "Mrs. Miniver," Jan Struther

4. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Ernest Hemingway

5. "The Nazarene," Sholem Asch

6. "Stars on the Sea," F. van Wyck Mason

7. "Oliver Wiswell," Kenneth Roberts

8. "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck

9. "Night in Bombay," Louis Bromfield

10. "The Family," Nina Fedorova

Nonfiction best-sellers
Good Reads

1. "I Married Adventure," Osa Johnson

2. "How to Read a Book," Mortimer Adler

3. "A Smattering of Ignorance," Oscar Levant

4. "Country Squire in the White House," John T. Flynn

5. "Land Below the Wind," Agnes Newton Keith

6. "American White Paper," Joseph W. Alsop Jr. and Robert Kintnor

7. "New England: Indian Summer," Van Wyck Brooks

8. "As I Remember Him," Hans Zinsser

9. "Days of Our Years," Pierre van Paassen

10. "Bet It’s a Boy," Betty B. Blunt