Houseone history: the Schellinger family, 1940

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Records from the 1940 Census were released earlier this month, 72 years after the Census was taken, and you can find full, house-by-house data online via the National Archives, in the form of scanned record sheets filled out by the census takers. Simply fill in your state/county/city/street, et voila! have 50 pages of scanned, 70-year-old, handwritten pages to read through to find your house. (That last step is the time-consuming part.)

Our house was inhabited by one Theodor Schellinger and his family, who apparently relocated from Flint to Ypsilanti sometime between 1935 and 1940, and paid $35/month in rent for our house.

Theodor is 47 years old in 1940, has a year of college under his belt, and works 40 hours a week as an engineer at the automobile factory. (They don't specify which one.) The salary field is pretty smudgy, but it looks like he earned $2,250 a year. Perhaps most interestingly, his birthplace is listed as Austria--he's a naturalized citizen as of 1940.

Dorothy Schellinger, age 34, was born in New York, attended two years of high school, and is "engaged in home housework". Their three children, Richard (16), Marie (12), and Elisabeth (6) were all born in Michigan.

Counting backwards, Theodor was born in Austria around 1893, and Dorothy born in New York around 1906. Assuming the three children are all the natural children of both Theodor and Dorothy, by 1924, the two of them had moved to Michigan (together or separately), when Richard was born. At that point, Theodor would have been 31 years old and Dorothy 18. (Cara points out this age gap would have been much less scandalous in the early '20s than today.) Marie was born around 1926, and would be 86 years old now; Elisabeth was born 1934 and would be 77 today. Between 1935 and 1940, they moved from Flint to Ypsilanti. (We can't tell just from this whether they lived in Flint for their entire Michigan tenure prior to moving to Ypsi, just that they lived there on April 1, 1935.)

Not much else found in some quick googling. There appears to have been a Richard Schellinger in the class of 1953 at Michigan Normal College (Eastern); our Richard would have been 29 at the time--perhaps spent some years in the war before eventually going to college?

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More census fun

If you follow this link to my local library and click on the Fold3 link, you can get free, indexed access to the 1930 census. This means you could search the U.S. for the Schellingers and get some more information on them if there were in Flint in April 1930. You could also search or browse the Enumeration District (likely slightly different in 1930) and figure out who lived in your house then. Makes me want to buy a house just so I can do a house history.


Dale, I think you're allowed to do house histories without yourself buying the house. (Dorkiest housewarming ever for new homeowners?)