I cannot believe it has been a year since the launch of The Leafseeker! Well, I am truly excited and to celebrate the launch of this second blogging year I’m jumping right into preparing plans for researching the soon to be released 1940 U.S. Population Census Schedule on April 2, 2012.
Planning Your Research
The release of the 1940 Census is monumental being the first population census schedule released digitally for public access. Unlike microfilmed census roll releases of the recent past, you will not be standing in line at the library’s microfilm reader waiting for your to scroll through census data. Instead you will be at home in your PJs waiting for the images to stream to your desktop.
When preparing for the 1940 census the National Archives (NARA) should be the first stop on your research plan trip. The NARA 1940 Census Records webpage is dedicated to providing information on the 1940 Census, what data it contains, and how you can access its information.
NARA will have their facilities available for access immediately. Online databases noted below will first receive the images then provide them for online access as soon as they can update their websites. Technology is wonderful!
Okay, now take a deep breath: The 1940 Census has no index. NO INDEX! So you will need to be prepared for researching between the time the images are released and until database sites have them transcribed into a searchable index.
- Grab your compiled family information and note the residences of your family
- Revisit the 1930 Census and note the Enumeration District (ED) of each family member’s census sheet.
- Make use of maps, district maps, ward maps, and city directories to assist in moving families and adult children who may have moved from the family home.
To use the new census images, you will need to begin with a known geographic location and/or the Enumeration area. This will assist you in finding the correct census sheet that holds your family’s 1940 residence. Once located you keep track of your research findings by using a fill-in template or a printable template of the census.
The Data Questions
On April 1, 1940 the government’s authorized census takers were armed with forms to record the locations and personal information of approximately 132,164,569 U.S. citizens. The questions contained on this census form are similar to previously released population schedules but with the addition of a few new ones. Of the new questions several note answers regarding possible participation in projects of the New Deal i.e. Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), Works Project Administration (WPA), or National Youth Administration (NYA); education level, as well as amount of earnings. Of the most interesting questions asked was the where the individual lived in 1935. This bit of data will likely aid genealogists tremendously when following traveling family members. See the full list of questions asked by census takers.
Additional Resources and Access
Online database websites are also preparing for the onslaught of visitors eager to access the 1940 Census digitized images on April 2nd. Currently enlisting employed and volunteer transcribers, these sites will aim to provide access to the images and their data in record time than any previously indexed census schedules.
The FamilySearch.org‘s website page regarding the 1940 Census will get you up and running on the release details in their collection. They are also requesting for volunteers to assist in indexing the new census.
Archives.com will provide free access to the census images and shortly after plan to build a searchable index.
Once the 72-year privacy restriction of the 1940 Census is lifted on April 2nd, I hope you are prepared for the intensive research this new resource is likely to spark! Just 53 days to go!