Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming Soon To A Computer Near You. . . . .

April 2, 2012. Monday morning! In less than a week the National Archives and Records Administration will release the 1940 US Census. Are you ready?

I trust that by now you have completed your list of people you want to find in the new census. You will definitely need the addresses of everyone on your list since the initial view of the census will not be indexed and you will need Enumeration District numbers in order to narrow your search for your relatives. If you are like me, you have a pretty good idea where your parents or grandparents lived in 1940 and you can easily confirm this by checking a city directory. If you are unable to locate your people in a city directory, there is the possibility of a phone book listing. Just remember that not everyone had a phone in 1940. That is pretty hard to imagine in this day of Iphones and Droids and Razrs.

If the phone book and city directories aren't working for you, there are other options. You just need to use your imagination. Do you have anything stashed away in one of those old department store Christmas boxes where your mom or grandma used to store memorabilia?  Maybe a letter with an address on it. Or even a return address. Do you have a death certificate of someone who died shortly before 1940? Check the address for the next of kin who may have provided the information. How about a birth certificate? Maybe even yours! There's your mom and dad at home in 1940! Maybe you are like my husband who goes down to Kentucky looking for Aunt Mattie's house or the place where Cousin Jerry  used to live and all he can remember is "well I know it was off this road somewhere."  If nothing else, it gives you a place to start looking and narrows down the Enumeration District where you will have to look. You can even take a chance that where they were in the 1930 census is where they will be in 1940. Use your imagination -- I found an address in an old  cookbook once.Other sources are military records, obituaries, or photographs.

Once you have your names and addresses, you will want to go to to find the Enumeration District numbers. I have found that this website is very user friendly and not at all complicated.
From a menu in the upper left corner of the website, select US Census. This will give you a drop down menu. Scroll down to Unified 1940 US Census ED Finder and click on it. This will take you to a page where you can select state, county, city and follow some very clear, easy to use instructions. Use the 1880-1940 ED Definitions (from the original drop down menu on the home page) to find rural areas. Just enter the state and county, click search and you will get a list of township information.

There are several places where the 1940 US Census will be available. will have the census for free until 2013 and Family Search will have the census for free indefinitely.  Other places you can locate the digital images for the census will be Archives, National Archives, and Find My Past. Ancestry states that the National Archives will turn over the images at midnight. I am not sure if this means the census will begin to be available at the stroke of midnight, but I intend to find out!! (See below for links to websites.)*

Volunteers are needed for indexing the 1940 Census. Indexing is not as difficult as it sounds so please don't be intimidated by it. Also, 1940  handwriting is not going to be as hard to read as something written in the 1860's, but I am sure there will still be names that will be hard to read. There are tutorials and plenty of instructions and help for those willing to volunteer. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your part to provide free online records for other genealogists.

Happy hunting in the 1940 Census and I hope you find everyone you are looking for!

*Where to find the 1940 US Census:

No comments:

Post a Comment