Monday, April 09, 2012

Comparing Home Prices in the 1930 and 1940 Censuses

After doing a lot of 1940 census research on my ancestors and other relatives last week, I started comparing information given in the 1940 census with the previous census of 1930. I was immediately struck by the sharp decline in home values from 1930 to 1940. But we know this was the time of the Great Depression.

My great grandfather, August Beine, owned a home at 2860 Arlington Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. The 1930 census shows the home valued at $10,000. The same home was valued at $2500 in the 1940 census.

August Beine in the 1940 Census

My mother's great aunt, Sadie Nyhof, and her husband Anton were living at 5974 Romaine Place in St. Louis in 1930. Their home was valued at $10,000. Anton died in 1935. Sadie was still living in the house in 1940, which was valued at $2500. In both censuses, another family rented part of the house. The rent was $47/month in 1930 and $27.50/month in 1940.

These examples show how the value of two homes declined significantly during the Great Depression of the 1930s, a period my parents and grandparents lived through. The 1930 and 1940 censuses can provide intriguing snapshots of this time in our history. Along with home values (or monthly rent), the 1940 census also shows salaries, education (years of school completed, including college) and other interesting information. What have you found?

For information on the 1940 US Census and where to find the records online, see: Compact Guide to the 1940 Census


Beine family
1940 US Census, Missouri, St. Louis City, ED 96-519D, Sheet 6A (line 32); enumerated April 18, 1940.
1930 US Census, Missouri, St. Louis City, ED 96-103, Sheet 18B (line 79); enumerated April 6, 1930.

Nyhof family (and renter)
1940 US Census, Missouri, St. Louis City, ED 96-764, Sheet 10B (lines 57 and 59); enumerated April 11-12, 1940.
1930 US Census, Missouri, St. Louis City, ED 96-255, Sheet 7A (lines 20 and 23); enumerated April 7, 1930.

1940 census records listed above were accessed from 1930 census records listed above were viewed at the Rocky Mountain (Denver) National Archives branch on microfilm and online at