First the 1940 census will be released on April 2, 2012. YEAH! For all of us trying to put places together with our recent ancestors this is a great event. Please be aware, though, that indexing will not be completed for quite a while. This is not a small project by any means.
If you go to Google and search for “1940 census release date” this is just a few of the results:
|Extract of Google Results for "1940 census release date"|
You will note that some of the normal subscription sites will be allowing access to the 1940 census for free. This is probably because it won’t be indexed. I noticed that Ancestry is permitting free access through the end of 2013 and can’t help but wonder if this is also the target date for indexing. Indexing is vital if you want to be able to type in search information like your ancestor’s surname, given name, or other vital information. Without indexing we will only be able to browse through the data. So, between now and April 2, 2012 I have some things on our “to-do” lists.
1. Locate the people or holes in your research for 1940.
2. Figure out what area they might have lived in.
3. Figure out who they might have lived with.
4. Use currently available documents to help establish residency.
a. City Directories
c. Newspaper Articles
d. Shared family trees
5. Determine their census enumeration districts so you will be ready! I recommend the tools at: http://stevemorse.org/census/ed2040.php
6. Sign up with one of the free sites to help index!
Family Search is constantly soliciting for people who would like to index records as are many lineage societies. Get a head start and index records now for other projects because when the 1940 census is released many of these other worthwhile projects will languish until the 1940 records are done.
The 1940 census asked LOTS of questions! The whole list is available at: http://www.1940census.net/1940_census_questions.php
The one set of questions that struck me was asking for occupations for anyone over 14. I think asking any current 14 yr. old what his or her occupation is would be shocking. Some of the more helpful questions include (for women only): How many marriages? How many live births? And the very helpful question – What language was spoken in early childhood?
So - be prepared and