Thursday, March 29, 2012

1940 Census--Getting Prepared

Great excitement among many genealogists is accompanying the release of the  1940 Federal Census on Monday, April 2, 2012. Some facts will prepare researchers to be ready to make the best use of the data:

1. Although the Census will be released on April 2, it will not be alphabetically indexed for at least another six months after that date, depending on how quickly the volunteers can do this work.

2. The Census information will be available at, but it is anticipated that, as happened in 2002 with the release of the 1930 Census, the system may "crash" for a time because of so many people logging on; but in a few days, the crunch should begin to ease.

3. Although no alphabetic index is available for a time, if you know the "Enumeration District" of you or your ancestor who was residing in a particular town or city,  you can look up the family by the Enumeration District number (ED). Then use the ED to locate the data on the family.

4. To find the ED, go to -- a free website--and scroll down the left margin to the underlined blue heading entitled Unified Census ED Finder; there you will be instructed to put in the name of the state, city, county, street, and house number if you know it. The page will also ask you for the names of cross streets, if you know them, so as to be able to zero in on that particular ED; if you don't know those or don't know the house number, you will be given several different ED numbers and you would need to try each of those.

5. If you are unsure of the address, you may be able to find it in the alphabetic listing of residents in a City Directory for the town or city that was published a bit before or after or in 1940.

6. The 1940 census is particularly rich in information because the nation was emerging from the Depression and the government wanted to know lots of information, in addition to the usual names, address, age, etc., such as:

   a. Where the family was living on April 1, 1935 as well as on the 1940 date of the Census itself
   b. The name of the actual person who provided the Census data
   c. Whether each person was working, or seeking a job, between March 24 and 30, 1940
   d. Wages or salary earned in the prior year
   e. The value of the home, if owned
   f.  Place of birth if not the United States
    and considerably more.

Another avenue of access to the Census is, which is a pay site for a reasonable fee.  has also announced that they will be making the Census available. 

So prepare by finding out the ED now and enjoy the search!

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