Family historians across the United States are eagerly awaiting the release of the 1940 census at 9 a.m. EST on Monday, April 2. For months, the genealogical community has been gearing up for this once-in-a-decade event.
Mandated by the United States Constitution, the census is a headcount of everyone living in the country and is taken every ten years; its constitutional purpose is to assure that each state has representation in Congress proportionate to its population. For genealogists, however, it is a way to track families through time and across miles.
In addition to the standard questions such as name and age, the 1940 census included questions about where the individual lived 5 years previous to the census date, whether they worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) or similar agencies, highest school grade completed, and income and occupation.
For the first time in history, the census is being released to the public as digital images, accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access, free of charge. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 1940 census website will be the first to have the images available; other content providers will follow. Although the images will be available, there will be no name index; researchers will need to know the Enumeration District in which the person lived to get started.
The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, a volunteer service project, is poised to start creating an every-name index as soon as practicable after the images are available. The effort is jointly sponsored by Archives.com, FamilySearch, and findmypast.com, and supported by the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the Association of Professional Genealogists.
For more information about the 1940 census, check out the video on the left sidebar and these pages at the NARA website:
· 1940 Census Records
· FAQs About the 1940 Census
· How to Start Your 1940 Census Research