As I write this post, the United States is waiting for the 1940 US Census’ release to the public. By the time you read this post, it will have already happened. Each US Census is released to the public after a 72-year waiting period due to privacy concerns and 1940 Census is due on April 2, 2012. If you have even a passing interest in genealogy, you probably know that already. Listed below are some things about the 1940 Census that you may not know (Well, at least, I didn’t!):
- There will only be one place to access the census records initially. That place is http://www.1940census.archives.gov/. Eventually, the records will be all over at places like familysearch.org, ancestry.com, and myheritage.com. On Monday, April 2nd the only place to see them will be the site designated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The records will be free there. Do not be persuaded to go to some site that offers to let you see them for a fee.
- This is the first time that the census records will be released as digital images. In the past, the census records were always released on microfilm initially and only later were copies made available online. Technology has advanced enough in the past ten years to make this possible, or at least easier than a decade ago.
- To search the 1940 US Census for your ancestors or relatives, you must know the enumeration district in which they lived. The first step will be to find their address. You can look for this in several places. Try the 1930 US Census; perhaps the people for whom you are looking did not move during the 1930’s. Or if you think they lived in a particular urban area, try finding them in a city directory. Finally, you might find their address listed on their WWII draft registration. Check with the NARA Regional Facility for the state where they lived; they should have these draft registration records. Once you know their address, you can use the tools at http://stevemorse.org/census/ to find the proper enumeration district for the 1940 census.
- You can help give others in your community quick access to the 1940 Census by becoming a volunteer indexer. Learn more about becoming an indexer at https://the1940census.com/?cid=fsHomeT1940HelpText.
Good luck finding your 1940 ancestors. This will be a great opportunity to find out about what historians call the “Greatest Generation.” Learn more about these folks by reading Tom Brokaw’s bestseller, The Greatest Generation, available at http://www.littletonbooks.com/the-greatest-generation/.