Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The 1940 U.S. Census images are now released!
On April 2, 2012, NARA released the digital images of the 1940 United States Federal Census after a 72 year embargo. These census images are uploaded and have been made available on:
Additionally, the entire 1940 census will be indexed by a community of volunteers and made available for free. The free index of the census records and corresponding images will be available to the public for perpetuity.
The "Greatest Generation"
The 1940 U.S. Federal Census is the largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set available that records the names of this who were living in the United States at the time the census was taken.
132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940.
Tens of millions of people livening in the United States in 1940 are still living today, making this a record set that connects people with recent family records.
Many of these individuals are a part of what has been called the Greatest Generation.
These are people who:
-Survived the Great Depression
-Fought in the Second World War
-Innovated technology (TV, Microwave)
-Sacrificed in the name of freedom
-Practiced thrift and compassion
-Understood hard work and industry
The people in the 1940 census deserve to have their records preserved and made available online.
Rich and unique information
The 1940 census included several standard questions, such as: name, age, race, gender, education, and place of birth. But the census also introduced some new questions. One example is that the enumerator was instructed to mark (with a circled X) who in the household responded to the census questions. Other questions included whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940, and the income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939.
New, interesting questions were asked:
-Where people lived 5 years before
-Highest educational grade achieved
-Detailed income and occupation
As part of the census, 5% of respondents (two names per page) were asked supplemental questions. which included the birth place of the person's father and mother, the respondent's usual occupation (not just for the week of March 24-30), and questions related to marriage for all women who were or had been married. The enumerators asked women if they had been married more than once, the age at first marriage, and the total number of children to whom they had ever given birth.
Now you can go and find your family information. More importantly, you have the opportunity to be part of history by volunteering some of your time to help assist in the endeavor of indexing information to make even more of the census available to everyone.
I spent several hours yesterday looking through records and locating information about my immediate and extended family. The release of this census is a significant occasion for any genealogist, both professional and amateur. A fair amount of the information was quite familiar to me, but a number of interesting bits of until now unknown information were also revealed that provided for some great conversation with a few family members. I urge you to check it out.....either just for personal information on your family, or possibly even to volunteer your time. You'll be making history by participating at any level.