I'm trying to find a published source giving the percent of U.S. households having electricity and percent having telephones in 1940 (+/- a year or two). Not interested in the rural vs city divide per se, but, rather, the aggregate stats.

The numbers don't need to be super accurate either -- I'm happy to read off of a graph.

I've poked around the internet, and, to my surprise, couldn't find these stats very easily. I also have Julie Cohn "The Grid", but the numbers (for electrification) are not readily found there either.


  • 5
    Where have you looked already (to avoid duplication of effort)?
    – Steve Bird
    Nov 22, 2021 at 20:30
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    This is earlier than the timeframe you are looking for, but at least one data point. National Park Service: "Only in 1925 did half of all homes in the U.S. have electric power."
    – njuffa
    Nov 22, 2021 at 21:31
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    Wikipedia: " ... about 1930 when 70% of households were electrified in the U.S."
    – njuffa
    Nov 22, 2021 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


Citing a U.S. Census Bureau publication, "Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970," this website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond shows a graph indicating that in 1940, 85% of all US residences had access to electricity.

Statista, crediting their own research department, provides a bar graph that indicates that in 1940 36.9% of all US housing units had a telephone. This site shows a graph based on US government sources confirming that number. The site owner requests that it be cited as: Rodrigue, J-P et al. (2020) The Geography of Transport Systems, Hofstra University, Department of Global Studies & Geography, https://transportgeography.org.

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    I appreciate the Federal Reserve Bank source for electrification. That is good enough for me. The Statista site for telephones possibly cites sources, but they are behind a pay wall. So I think I'm half way there with this. Thank you. Nov 22, 2021 at 22:00
  • I will look at this tomorrow. Sorry. Busy at the moment, but I appreciate the help. Nov 23, 2021 at 0:38
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    njuffa, this is all excellent. I will use this in my project. I am very happy that you were able to dig this up. Thank you. Nov 23, 2021 at 2:23

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