26 March 2012

It's Now 1 Week Until the 1940 Census is Released! What Can You Do To Prepare?

by Jan Alpert

The 1940 Census images will become available at 9:00 am 2 April 2012 at http://1940census.archives.gov. The census will not be indexed when it is released. Ancestry will be working with indexers around the world to complete the index as quickly as possible for their subscribers. FamilySearch has organized a volunteer 1940 Census Indexing Project with genealogy societies across the United States. FamilySearch will post the index on its website www.familysearch.org as each state is completed. If you want to volunteer to index the 1940 census on behalf of NGS go to https://the1940census.com and sign up.

What can you do to prepare for the census? Go to http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/  and become familiar with the “Questions Asked on the 1940 Census.”

Make a list of everyone you want to research in the 1940 census and their address. If you don’t know their address, how do you find it?

1.      Check for a 1940 City Directory
2.      Check for a World War II draft registration
3.      Check for an address written on the back of a photo
4.      Do you have an old address book which belonged to your parents or grandparents?
5.      Do you have any old envelopes from letters your relatives may have written about 1940?

If your family lived in the same house for at least 10 years you can look for the property address in the 1930 Census. Find your ancestor in the 1930 census. View the image of the census page. The street name is written in the left margin of the census page. The house number is written in the first column.

Here are two examples from the 1930 Census:

My father was Charles Nutter. In 1930 he was living with his parents in Pontiac, Oakland Co., Michigan at 944 Cameron Ave.

Next look at the Enumeration District in the top right corner.  In 1930 the ED was 63-54. We will now show you how to convert the ED in 1930 to the ED in 1940.

Stephen P. Morse has provided a tool to convert census Enumeration Districts from 1930 to 1940.

This means that in the 1940 Census, I will find 944 Cameron Ave., Pontiac, MI on ED 63-73. So when the 1940 Census becomes available, I will go to Michigan  and look for ED 63-73.

This next example are my maternal ancestors from the 1930 census in Peoria, Illinois. I know they were living at 200 Hanssler Place, Peoria, Illinois, even though the street name is further down on the census page.

Take the ED 72-55 from the 1930 Census and return to http://stephenmorse.com/census/unified.html

So as soon as the 1940 Census is available, I can go to Illinois and look for ED 104 and find my grandparents in the 1940 Census. In this case I will have to browse three ED’s 104-41, 104-42 and 104-45 which may mean more than 100 pages, but this is still better than having to browse all the pages for Peoria, Illinois.

We want to thank Stephen P. Morse, PhD and Joel D. Weintraub, PhD for their advance work on the 1940 Census and the many other research tools provided on their website http://stevemorse.org/index.html.

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