Saturday, April 7, 2012

On the Street Where You Lived (Part 1)

I spent some time this weekend searching through the newly-released 1940 Census records for information about my parents' childhood households. I didn't find anything really new about my family, and there's nothing here that they couldn't easily tell me themselves, but I'm a data geek, a history buff, and a former Census Liaison for state government, so this was fun.

Part 1: The Mahaffies of O Street
First, I searched maps of the Georgetown district of Washington, DC, where my father grew up on O Street, between 30th and 31st Streets. I found that that block was part of Enumeration District 1-245 in 1940. A little scrolling through the scanned population schedules for that district led me to an enumeration  sheet that included my grandparent's household.

My grandfather, Charles D. Mahaffie, Sr., was 55 years old on Census Day in 1940. He served as a Commissioner on the Interstate Commerce Commission. My grandmother, Isabel Mahaffie, was 47 and listed as a homemaker, though undoubtedly she continued to work, if not full time, as an artist. My father was about to turn nine years old and is listed as having completed three years of school.

I was interested also to learn about the people of the neighborhood. This is a partial picture, since the folks on the other side of O Street are in a different enumeration district, but a quick review of the people in the area suggests a fascinating mix.

There were a number of salespeople, a few people employed in the dairy business, a photographer, and the assistant chief of the Library of Congress (Maud Brady) who lived in the same house as a secretary at the Library (Cornelia Brady). I think they were Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law.

Up the street lived a young woman named Besley (first name illegible, at least so far) who was listed as a Secretary for the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Around the corner, on 30th Street, lived Paul L. Townsend, with his wife and kids. The census form notes that he was born in Delaware, and Townsend is a big name in Delaware; so I did a search. He turns out to have been the son of US Senator John G. Townsend, Jr., of Delaware.

I work across the street in Dover from a building named after the elder Townsend. Small world.

In Part 2, we visit the household of my Mother in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1 comment:

BeaK. said...

I'm an avid history buff of family orgins and routes also...enjoyed your article very much.

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