Modern Software Experience

2012-02-22

Facts and resources

NARA Logo

USA 1940 Census

The USA 1940 Census is the sixteenth USA Census. It contains information on the 1940 population of approximately 131 million people.
On 2012 April 2, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will release the enumeration sheets of the USA 1940 Census. NARA has digitised the entire USA 1940 Census. The result is a collection of more than 3,8 million images. NARA will release the entire collection of scanned images online.

The official USA 1940 Census site is 1940census.archives.gov.
Users will be able to visit this site free of charge, and without having to register.

index

The USA National Archives has digitised the enumeration schedules by USA state, county, city, township or minor civil division, and enumeration district. The free online site will allow browsing the images through these indices. The 2012 April 2 release does not provide any other index.

Archives.com Logo

Archives.com

NARA awarded the contract to design and and host the free 1940 U.S.Census site to Inflection. Inflection is the parent company of Archives.com, a commercial company started in mid 2009 that provides access to public records.
Archives.com uses the domain name archives.com, while NARA uses the domain name archives.gov. Archives developed the USA 1940 Census site for NARA, so its subdomain is on archives.gov, not archives.com.

1940 U. S. Community Project Logo

1940 U.S. Census Community Project

Archives.com joined other companies in creating the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. The goals of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project is to transcribe the enumeration sheets, to create a name index. Archives.com has joined forces with findmypast and FamilySearch. This avoids the creation of separate, competing indexing projects. The resulting name index will be used by all three.

The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project has its own website. This site provides the information and software you need to start indexing, including material join the indexing effort as a society instead of an individual.

USA 1940 Census Ambassador badge

blog

The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project site has its own blog. It also provides a 1940 Blog Ambassador Program. As a 1940 blog ambassador, you are provided with content to use in your blog, including a choice of badges, in different styles and sizes.

census questions

The census records contains the recorded answers to questions. NARA has put the census forms and questions online. The 1940 census form is available as a scanned image of an original blank census form, as a printable PDF, and even as fillable online form.
Many questions asked in the 1940 census are identical to questions asked in earlier and later census. There were supplementary questions, including the place of birth of father and mother, a question that is be very helpful to genealogists. Other supplemental questions of interest to genealogists are the mother tongue, whether the person is a veteran, whether the person has a social security number, and whether a woman has been married before.
The page that contains all this ends with a helpful list of abbreviations used.

enumerator instructions

The census forms were filled in by the enumerators. To fully understand how they did, you can read the enumerator instructions. NARA has put both Abridged Instructions to the Enumerator and Complete Instructions to the Enumerator complete with Occupation and Industry Classifications.

enumeration districts

The 1940 census is organised by enumeration district (ED). You do not need to wait for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project to complete the name index, but can immediately search the census by enumeration district. In fact, even when the name index has been completed, you may still want to search by enumeration district.
The main challenge is finding the enumeration for a 1940 address. NARA has the 1940 Census Maps that show the enumerations districts, but although this available through their Online Public Access search, using the maps to finds the enumeration districts is doing it the hard way.
The easy way is using the census utilities that Stephen Morse has added to his famous One Step pages. The ED Finder find the enumeration district for all cities with more than 50.000 inhabitants, the ED Description utility for 1940 find the enumeration district for rural areas, and last but not least the 1930/1940 ED Converter utility converts from a 1930 enumeration district to a 1940 enumeration district.

updates

2012-04-02: USA 1940 Census available

The USA 1940 Census is public. Ancestry.com started loading images at midnight, and was the first company to have some images available on their servers. The NARA site could not handle the load and Archives.com was quick to apologise: We expected a Flood and got a Tsunami!.
NARA reported that the site received 22,5 million unique visitors in the first few hours.
Archives.com is directing visitors to the official 1940.archives.org site they made for the National Archives. With everyone flocking to NARA, FamilySearch and Ancestry.com, many forget that MyHeritage is offering the images too.

links

USA 1940 Census

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