Garner: Community

Johnston County’s 1940 Census data now online

The Johnston County Heritage Center has produced an online searchable database of Johnston County residents as listed in the 1940 U.S. Census.

With the completion of the project, the Heritage Center’s website has Census records going back to 1860.

The federal government released personal information from the 1940 Census in April 2012. Since then, the Heritage Center’s staff has been transcribing from the original Census records each person’s name, place of residence, age, sex, race, place of birth, relationship to head of household and occupation. The original records are accessible online via the U.S. Census website.

Margo Allsbrook, Lucy Washington and Joyce Mitchell of the Heritage Center staff shared the tedious work of compiling the data.

“What made the task so difficult was poor penmanship by many of Census takers, making some names illegible,” said Wingate Lassiter, the Heritage Center’s director. “Our staff resorted to various other sources, such as earlier Census records, to figure out many of the names. Sometimes we had to make an educated guess. As a result, we’ll gladly make corrections to our 1940 database as the public brings misspellings of names and other correctable mistakes to our attention.”

Next in line for release of personal information is the 1950 U.S. Census, but that, by federal law, cannot be done until April 2022.

The Heritage Center’s web address is From the home page, click on “Searchable Records Online” to reach a menu of Johnston County Census databases and other historical records that can be researched via the Internet.

The Heritage Center is housed in the former First Citizens Bank headquarters building at the corner of Market and Third streets in downtown Smithfield. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 919-934-2836 or e-mail