United States Census 1940
Indexes and Images
The 1940 Census is scheduled for public release on April 2, 2012. For more information see the National Archives. This release will be images only. This is the first census released as digital images as well as in microfilm format. The digital images will be available on the National Archives website.
Microfilm images are available for purchase from the National Archives. The Family History Library is planning to purchase digital copies only.
Indexes will become available as they are completed. For the latest information about completed FamilySearch indexes see the 1940 U.S Census Community Project. On this site learn how you can become part of the community indexing initiative. Also find links to historical and genealogical societies who are involved in indexing the 1940 census.
Until the indexes are completed, other methods can be used to find your ancestors in the 1940 Census. See Wiki articles for help with these various methods:
- What is an Enumeration District?
- Finding your 1940 ancestor using the 1930 Census Enumeration District
- Finding your 1940 ancestor in a rural area
- Finding your 1940 ancestor in a big city
- Using a city directory to find your 1940 ancestor's address
- What can I do now to prepare to find my ancestor in the 1940 Census?
Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub have created tools to help researchers locate individuals in the unindexed 1940 census. For an overview of their site see Which One-Step Census Form Should I Use?
Additional Facts About the 1940 Census
- 4,643 rolls of 35mm microfilm
- Approximately 3.25 million digital images
- 132 million names
- First census to use statistical sampling
The 1940 Census was taken 1 April 1940. For privacy reasons, federal law required a 72-year wair for the census to be released (92 Stat. 915; Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978).
The 1940 Census gives the same basic information obtained from previous census years: name, age, place of birth, family relationships, location of residence, physical description education, and citizenship.
There were a few new questions asked which would help in genealogical research.
1. Name of informant: (Column 7): An “X” is placed by the name of the person giving the information. This would then allow knowing the credibility of the information given.
2. Individual present or absent (Column 7): Those who usually live in the home but currently not there were to be marked with “Ab” as being absent from the home.
3. Residence as of April 1 1935 (Columns 17-20). These series of questions help to establish a residence of 5 years previous.
4. Education (Columns 13-14): A broader spectrum of level of education is given.
5. Employment (Columns 23-33): Specific questions about employment, unemployment and income give greater insights into the lives of the people.
6. Census Sampling used ( 2 lines from each page, 14 & 29) A few more questions were asked concerning mother tongue, parents place of birth and employment.
7. Besides the Population and Agriculture Census and new census called the “Housing Census” was taken. This separate schedule asked detailed questions about the house, utilities, and mortgage or rent.
- Confirm who was the informant for the census information.
- Establish residency mid-decade with questions about 1935 residency.
- Broader spectrum of questions concerning level of education.
- More specific questions about employment.
- Census sampling used for people on lines 14 and 29, where additional questions were asked. See this list below under the heading Unique Features and Problems.
Unique Features and Problems
1. Census Sampling in the form of addtional questions were asked of persons over 14 years old whose names appeared on lines 14 or 29. These questions were only asked of those persons whose names fell on lines 14 or 29. If the person did not qualify ( too young) the questions were skipped.
These question included: 35. Name
- Place of Birth of Father and Mother
36. Father’s Place of Birth
37. Mother’s Place of Birth
- Mother Tongue:
38. Language spoke in home in earliest childhood
- Veterans - Is this person a veteran or a wife, widow or child under 18 of a veteran?
39. If so, enter yes
40. If child, is the father dead?
41. War or military service
- Social Security
42. Does the person have a Federal Social Security number? (Y or N)
43. Were deductions for Federal Old-Age Insurance or Railroad Retirement taken from this person’s wages or salary in 1939? (Y or N)
44. If so, were deductions made from (1) all, (2) one-half or more, (3) part, but less than half of pages or salary?
- Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker :What occupation does the person regard as his usually occupation and is physically able to do?
If unable to determine, what occupation has the person worked the longest in the past 10 years and physically able to?
For a person without previous work experience enter “None” on column 45 and skip columns 46 and 47.45. Usual Occupation
46. Usual Industry
47. Usual Class of worker
- For All Women who are or have been married:
48. Has this woman been married more than once (Y or N) 49. Age at first marriage
50. Number of children ever born (do not include stillborn)
2. Place of residence on April 1, 1935, if the person lived in a different place than in 1940. This essentially gave a 5-year census for all persons who changed residence during the decade.
3. Follow up schedules were used for people not home when the enumertor first visited.
- a. Pages were numbered 1A, 1B, 2A, etc. Person were listed on these pages when they were home on April 1st.
- b. Sheets for revisits to households were numbered beginning on page 61A. The pages between the original enumeration visits and the revisits were intentionally left blank.
- c. Beginning April 8th, people living in hotels, trailer camps, missions, etc., were enumerated beginning on sheet 81A. Again, pages between the original enumeration visits and these visits were intentionally left blank.
4. Enumeration Districts were smaller than previous census E.D.'s.
5. For a complete listing of 1940 census headings see the wiki page 1940 Census Form Headings.
State and Territories Covered
- All states, District of Columbia,and the Territories listed below:
- American Samoa
- Panama Canal Zone
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
No records are missing from the 1940 Census.
Where to Find the Records
Statistics at the time of the 1940 Census 
• U.S. Resident Population: 132,164,569
• Population per square mile of land area: 37.2
• Percent increase of population from 1930 to 1940: 7.3
• Official Enumeration Date: April 1
• Number of States: 48
The 10 Largest Urban Places: Rank/ Place/ Population
• 1 New York City, NY 7,454,995
• 2 Chicago, IL 3,396,808
• 3 Philadelphia, PA 1,931,334
• 4 Detroit, MI 1,623,452
• 5 Los Angeles, CA 1,504,277
• 6 Cleveland, OH 878,336
• 7 Baltimore, MD 859,100
• 8 St. Louis, MO 816,048
• 9 Boston, MA 770,816
• 10 Pittsburgh, PA 671,659
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Will there be an index to the 1940 census? If so, when will it be available?
A. FamilySearch volunteers are working hard to create a complete index of the 1940 census. Indexes for individual states will be made available as they are completed. Learn more and get involved at The 1940 Census
Q. Are there microfilm copies of the 1940 census? Will they be available at the Family History Library?
A. Microfilm copies of the 1940 census do exist. FamilySearch has decided instead to provide digital copies of the records instead of purchasing microfilm.