Big news for genealogists, historians and even for people just curious about their own families: the 1940 U.S. Census is now available on the web. Unfortunately, at this point at least, it takes a bit of skill and determination to navigate through the data, though there are many efforts underway to make this incredibly valuable trove of data more easily searchable.
For more info and to begin searching, here’s a collection of direct links to some helpful material.
Since the database became available on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) last week I’ve heard from a few people asking me about when you’ll be able to search the 1940 Census database by name.
Here’s precisely what NARA has to say:
The 1940 census has not yet been indexed by name, so you must search the census by location or enumeration district. There are initiatives underway to make the 1940 census searchable by name, including a community volunteer project. If you’d like to help make the 1940 census name-index available for free you can sign-up as a volunteer at the1940census.com.
While NARA has tools to help users locate records by enumeration (where someone lived), it’s still not nearly as fast or efficient as searching by name.
Ancestry.com’s 1940 Census Search
While NARA works to build a name index, Ancestry.com is gradually rolling out a name index for the 1940 census out to the public. Ancestry.com announced that they now have all 3.8 million scanned 1940 U.S. Census page images available, and have released a searchable name index for two states with the others to come.
The first two states available for name search are Delaware and Nevada. A good start, but a lot of work left to do.
The 1940 Census index is free to search via Ancestry.com from now through the end of 2013. You do need a login/password, but registration is simple (e-mail address only) and does not require a credit card. You can access the Ancestry.com 1940 census databasehere.
Looking For New York City Residents
In conjunction with the census release, the New York Public Library has developed a tool named Direct Me NYC 1940 that let’s you locate people by name and address, using a database of 1940s residential telephone directories.