Getting Ready for the Release of the 1940 United States Federal Census

On April 2, 2012, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration will release the 1940 United States Federal Census to the general public.  Working with several genealogy companies and societies, the U.S. Census Community Project will digitize the census and make the images available for free online to the public.

While the NARA microfilms will be available on April 2, the digitized census images will not all be available immediately online on that day.  As the records are scanned, the images will gradually appear online.  Initially, the census will not be indexed, but volunteers are being recruited to help digitize the images.

Until an index is available, researchers can browse the images, searching for names of index page by page.  One great way to home in on the images of interest is to first find the number of the enumeration district in which a family was living at the time and Steve Morse has already developed a set of One-Step Webpages to do just that.

If you know where someone was living in 1930 and suspect that they still lived there in 1940, Steve has a page that can help identify the 1940 enumeration district based on the 1930 enumeration district.  If you know the address at which someone was living in 1940, but don’t know the number of the 1930 enumeration district, Steve has a page that can help identify the 1940 enumeration district from the address.

Many, if not most of my relatives did not live in the same place in 1930 and 1940, so the approach I’m taking is to find the address at which they were living in 1940 using city directories from around 1940.

There’s really not all that much time left until the 1940 census is released, so it’s time to get cracking at finding the 1940 addresses and enumeration districts for my relatives.

Copyright © 2012 by Stephen J. Danko

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One Response to Getting Ready for the Release of the 1940 United States Federal Census

  1. Juvanne Martin, CG says:

    I think it will be interesting when so many people try getting on the National Archive site next week looking for people in the 1940 census and they won’t find a search engine to type in a name. It does not exist. Because there is no name index, that is why FamilySearch.org, myfindpast.com, and Archives.com have partnered together to find volunteers nationally to do this mass indexing project all over the United States.
    With no name index, people need to be creative to find addresses. Looking in a city directory is a great start, but many city directories have counties listed in the back of the book. This is important if your ancestor lived in a rural area and had a rural route number. Another great source is a 1940 telephone book.
    Juvanne Martin, CG
    President of the Idaho Genealogical Society

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