If you go to Steve Morse’s One-Step Website or you go to the US National Archives, you will see that as right now you have 198 days (and 17+ hours) to prepare for the 1940 US Census (which arrives 72 years after census, to protect privacy). This time it will be on April 2nd (2012).
Are you preparing? Ancestry.com says they will give us free access to the 1940 census (for a while). The last time (10 years ago) there were no indexes at the release and you had to do a lot of brute force searching page-by-page through an Enumeration District (ED), so you had to know the whereabouts of your family and be able to use the ED’s boundary cross streets to figure out which ED you needed to go page-by-page through. “Supposedly”, Ancestry.com says the indexes will be there (all of them? on day 1?). I hope they are correct and I hope this year they do not use foreign people to index the names — which was quite a snafu the last time and of course they were re-indexed (always time/money to do it a second time, but not enough time/money to do it right the first time — Stanczyk was a consultant too long and saw this again and again in many industries).
How can you prepare?
- Locate a 1940 (or 1939 or 1941) City Directory if you know the street address and verify that family were there
- If they are somewhere else, then you will need to use SteveMorse.org and his Census tools to change the new address into a 1940 ED
- Determine the ED ahead of time in case there are no indexes or the indexes are BAD.
- No City Directory available? SteveMorse has a census tool to convert the 1930 ED into a 1940 ED [assuming your family stayed at the same address]
- Figure out ahead of time some novel misspellings of the surnames your are searching for in case the indexer or the Census taker messed up your ancestor’s name.
- DO NOT lock yourself into assuming they are in the same state (or county or city).
- At first try with many details filled in, then relax a field at a time until you find your family -or- you can go in the opposite direction if your name is not common and start with the fewest fields filled in (usually just surname) and add in fields if you need to cut down the number of results.
- Use an address from any document prior to 1940, (ex. Naturalization Forms) if you do not have any idea where they live in 1940. Use the latest document’s address that you have to guess at an ED [again using SteveMorse.org].
- If the above fails try and find the address, the earliest as possible after the 1940 Census and see if they were. The Old Man’s WWII Draft might fit the bill for most people.
Those are my tips. Any other tips you are using? Then email this jester or make a comment, please. Prepare as if you were going to a Library or an archive or the Family History Library.
This is a War Census, so I do not know how they dealt with the many households that had soldiers away at war. Were soldiers listed on the Census or not?
Many good questions on this census, including …
- Residence, April 1, 1935
- For all women who are or have been married: Number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths).
- Veterans: War or military service.