Black undercount found in 1940 census records

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NEW YORK (AP) — As a teenager, tennis legend Althea Gibson played paddle tennis on the streets of her New York City neighborhood.

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NEW YORK (AP) — As a teenager, tennis legend Althea Gibson played paddle tennis on the streets of her New York City neighborhood.

But there’s no record of Gibson or her parents in the 1940 U.S. Census. They’re among the estimated more than 1 million blacks who never made it into the count.

There was an undercount of non-Blacks as well, but the percentage wasn’t as high.

Undercounts in the census can have impacts on everything from the configuration of congressional districts to the distribution of federal dollars.

The 1940 undercount had an impact on the Census Bureau itself, leading to efforts that continue to this day to count every single American.

The census was long known to have missed millions of people. But genealogists digging into recently released records may be rediscovering it.

Photo Caption: In this July 11, 1957 file photo, American tennis player Althea Gibson smiles and waves to the crowd from the backseat of an open car during a ticker-tape parade up Broadway in New York City. Gibson, of New York’s Harlem neighborhood, is the first black person to win at Wimbledon. Gibson, who helped break down racial barriers in women’s sports, was among the more than a million black people who weren’t counted in the 1940 census. There is no record of Gibson and her family in the decennial census, the records of which were released online to the public by the U.S. Census Bureau on April 2 after a 72-year confidentiality period lapsed. (AP Photo, File)

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