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Are you ready for the 1940 Census?
3/30/2012 4:23 PM

Genealogy research will soon get a boost. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is set to release the 1940 United States federal census on April 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT.

For the first time, digital images of the census will be available for free on the NARA website itself. They will also be available on FamilySearch and Ancestry at no charge.

What will researchers find in the 1940 census? Like previous censuses, the 1940 census will include the address, name, relationship, sex, race, age, marital status, school attendance, birthplace, citizenship and occupation of all household members. New questions reflect the fact that the nation had just come through the Great Depression. They include where they lived in 1935, whether they were employed in government work such as WPA or CCC, and their annual income in 1939. 

For persons enumerated on lines 14 and 29 of each census form, or about 5% of the population, supplementary questions were asked. You can discover their mother tongue, veteran status, social security status, usual occupation and the birthplace of their parents. For women who had ever been married, they were asked if they had been married more than once, their age at first marriage and the number of children born to them.

Due to U.S. law, no one has access to these images until April 2, so indexes have not yet been created. Several organizations are banding together to produce indexes as quickly as possible and anyone with a computer and some time can help. FamilySearch indexing is recruiting volunteers. Find out more at the 1940 Census section of their website.

Until the indexes are created, finding your ancestors will be tricky. If you want to start using the census images right away, you will need to narrow your search down to an enumeration district. You can determine which enumeration districts your ancestors will likely be in by using the utilities on this page: http://stevemorse.org/census/

More information about the 1940 Census, including how to start your research now to prepare for April 2, is available on the National Archives and Records Administration website.

 
 
 
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