The 1940 U.S. Census Is Here at Last, and What a Debut!
On Monday, April 2, the 1940 U.S. Census records were finally released. On that same day, in a joint initiative between the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, findmypast.com, and other leading genealogy organizations, FamilySearch began releasing census images for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. It is a national service project to create a free, high-quality, searchable database of the 1940 U.S. census records. These census records capture countless untold stories of those who lived through the Great Depression and at a time when the winds of WWII were beginning to blow across the world. These were men and women who made up “the greatest generation.”
It has been amazing to see the excitement within the genealogical community as genealogists and historians awaited the release of these records. Publicity for this project has been remarkable. The release of these historical records even warranted lengthy stories on each of the national news channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX), not to mention all of the local news outlets.
FamilySearch Indexing staff and many support personal within the department have spend months in preparation for this release. The quality of the end products is evidence of that dedication. By the end of the day on April 2, images for five states were posted, and folks were indexing to their hearts’ content. On Tuesday, April 3, the FamilySearch blog was filled with comments and e-mails from users voicing their great delight in being able to search through the images and, at long last, being able to start indexing them.
It has been truly impressive to see the response of indexers across the country. FamilySearch employees have been working madly throughout the day and night to keep up with the demands of indexers. More records have been indexed within a 24-hour period than ever before. Almost as quickly as technical support staff can post new states, the records disappear into the hands of anxious indexers. Literally hundreds of thousands of indexers around the country are swallowing up records, almost faster than they can be posted. So far, FamilySearch has been able to keep ahead of the demand but not without a lot of exhaustive effort.
Within a matter of months, FamilySearch and our partners will post a free, complete, top-quality index of all the names found in the 1940 U.S. Census. When that happens, the fascinating details and stories of individuals and of families will be open to the world. Our combined efforts will have captured a small sliver of life in 1940, and that will be a fascinating story to see.
To stay current with our efforts, visit www.familysearch.org/1940census.