Gearing up for the 1940 Census

February 20, 2012 § 4 Comments

Hi folks, it’s been a very long time since I paid much attention to the blog, and indeed I took quite a long break from researching my genealogy all together. I was quite busy at my job over the holidays and I needed to put most other things on the back burner for a while. But, it is now the new year, and Spring is in the air, if only a little, and I’m feeling a little antsy to get back into the swing of things.

Perhaps the main motivation for picking back up again with family history is the very exciting event that is soon to take place. On April 2, 2012, the 1940 US Federal census will be released to the public after it’s mandatory seventy-two year-long isolation from prying eyes. The release of the census is perhaps the single most exciting thing to occur in the world of family researchers and self-made genealogists for quite some time. It is true that most middle to later-aged individuals listed in the census are most likely dead today (hence the whole 72 year privacy thing), but it is highly likely that their children, or their grandchildren certainly, are still alive today as adults. The census might not reveal anything completely unexpected, but it might help to confirm what a researcher has only been able to guess at until now.

There will not be a searchable index of names for quite some time after the initial release, so researchers will have to know something about the address of the person they are looking for. Luckily, if you already have information from the 1930 census, it is pretty easy to determine where to look within the 1940 census. City directories are also very valuable in this regard, since they potentially can provide an exact address of an individual living in 1940.

Anyone interested in doing research in the 1940 census shortly after it is released would be well advised to become familiar with how the census was organised and other such bits of information. The best place to start would be with the National Archives itself. They have a great website available to get you up to speed.

A second site, one that can actually help you figure out where in the 1940 census to look for someone for whom you already know where they lived, is Steve Morse’s One-Step available here. It is not the most straightforward site, and it gets a little “wordy” after a while, but if you play around with it you’ll soon get the hang of it.

It’s very exciting to have so much new genealogical material on the cusp of public release, and you’ll want to stay tuned around here to see what I can come up with. I also hope you are successful in your own searches. Good luck!


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