|1940 US Census Page from Durham, Maine
Above is a census page from the 1940 US Census. Officially the images are not supposed to be released until 9am Eastern (six hours from now) by the US NAtional Archives, so I’m not sure how this is possible. It would seem the National Archives has been sharing the images early to allow companies to get them up faster. The above image is from Ancestry.com’s site, which somehow has a small number of images from DC, Maine and Nevada up already.
The 1940 US Census is being released today. The official launch is at 9:00am Eastern Time. There will be a live webcast before the launch at 8:30am. If you can get through, the official site for the census is http://1940census.archives.gov/.
Since I wrote about it last time, genealogy company MyHeritage has announced that they will also be indexing the 1940 Census images and providing free access online. They join Ancestry.com and the Archives.com/FamilySearch.org/FindMyPast.com consortium (The US Census Community Project) in indexing the census.
So now all the 1940 census record sites you should know about are:
The official National Archives site: http://1940census.archives.gov/
The US Census Community Project: https://the1940census.com/
Ancestry.com’s 1940 Census: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2442
and of course, Stephen Morse’s Unified 1940 Census ED Finder.
One interesting thing about the 1940 census is that is was the first census to have a census time, not just a census day. In other words, in the past the census was recorded based on what the state of the population was on April 1, but in 1940 the census enumerators were instructed to base their information on midnight, April 1, so if lets say a baby was born on April 1, 1940, they won’t show up in the census (since they were not born by midnight). In a strange twist of fate, I have another interesting example in my family – my great-grandmother, grandfather and great-uncle all arrived in the US by ship on April 1, 1940. If the enumerators followed the rules, they shouldn’t be in the 1940 census. I’ll have to wait until the images for New York are up to find out, however. Another great-uncle should, however, be in the records as he arrived earlier. Any strange stories in your family connected to the 1940 Census?
It only happens once a decade. Seventy-two years after the 1940 US Census was recorded, it is being released to the public. Unlike previous years where it was released on microfilm and took a long time to digitize and then index, this time the census is being released fully digitized. You should be able to see census pages on day 1 (April 2), although no index exists so you will not be able to search by name or address. The work on such an index will only start on April 2, 2012 when the files become available.
There are at least two efforts to index the 1940 Census records, one by Ancestry.com, and another by a consortium called the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, which includes FamilySearch.org, Archive.com and FindMyPast.com.
It is unlikely that a full index will be completed by either group before at least six months from now, and probably longer, but there is a way to find the enumeration district (ED) for your relative which is the neighborhood that the census enumerator recorded.
Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub have collaborated to create a number of useful tools that help you figure out which enumeration district you should be looking for, and when the images are released you will be able to locate which images are from the enumeration district you are looking for. To get started with these tools, use the quiz page on Stephen Morse’s site. If your relatives were already living in the US in 1930 and didn’t move by 1940, you should try to find their census records from 1930 which will help in figuring out the correct ED in 1940.
Be sure to go to Stephen Morse’s site before April 2, as it will likely be difficult to reach on April 2 and for some time afterwards. Find the EDs of all your relatives who lived in the US in 1940 now, and then on April 2 you will be able to go directly to the census images and find your relatives using the EDs you already found.
I don’t post a lot of commercial links in my blog, except if it is to an offer for a discount I think would benefit my readers. I’m making an exception here, because, well, I think its pretty cool. Many people who research their own genealogy would love to go visit the countries where their families came from, but cannot afford to do so. However, if someone paid for your trip, you’d probably go, right?
The TV show Who Do You Think You Are? is coming back for a third season this week, and Ancestry.com (who is a sponsor of the show) is launching a sweepstakes offering free trips to three winners to go back to their ancestral homelands and uncover their family’s histories. United States residents only, sorry to my many readers in other countries. They value this prize at $10,000 for each winner. The prize includes a trip for two to the winner’s homeland, hotels and $2,000 cash, a six-month World Explorer membership to Ancestry.com and an Ancestry.com DNA test. No mention of any professional help when you get to your ancestral homeland – that would have been a nice touch…
One thing I need to say. Six months, really? Sorry, as much as I like the idea of the trip, what’s with the six month membership? You’re giving away a $10,000 prize and you can’t spring for a full year membership which costs you nothing? They don’t even offer six month subscriptions on their web site – a year costs $300/year and a month-to-month subscription costs $35/month.
In addition, 20 other people will win six-month World Explorer subscriptions. I guess that’s valued at $150? ($149.70 according to the rules I just looked at…)
Anyways, to enter the contest, you can click on the image below. I think you need to sign up for a free Ancestry.com account, which means they can e-mail you, etc. as part of the deal, but it doesn’t cost any money to enter.
Oh, and if you win, I expect a write-up of your trip to post here on this blog. That’s fair, right?