Monday, November 9, 2009

1940 U.S. Federal Census Information

Joel Weintraub kindly forwarded a link to the U.S. National Archives web page for the 1940 census -- .

The web page looks like this:

The big clock on the page counts down the seconds until the 1940 census is released by NARA on 2 April 2012. When I made the screen shot, there were 874 days, 15 hours, 48 minutes and 17 seconds remaining.

The page has links to five other pages:

* Part 1: General Information -- this page says:

"The 1940 census will be released digitally on April 2, 2012. The digital images will be accessible at NARA facilities nationwide through our public access computers as well as on personal computers via the internet."

The page provides the questions asked on the 1940 census, along with explanatory comments and notes. There are also links to a 1940 census template and a blank 1940 census form:

Note that, in the 1940 census, they asked persons #14 and #29 on each page additional questions about birthplaces of parents, mother tongue, veterans status, social security, usual occupation, class of worker, and marriage data for women.

* Part 2: How to Start Your 1940 Census Research -- provides a check list of things you can do to prepare for the 1940 census release.

* Part 3: Indexes and Other Finding Aids -- provides ways to find an address in many larger cities using enumeration district definitions. Note that name indexes will not be provided by NARA.

My assumption is that the genealogy indexing sites (e.g., FamilySearch, Ancestry, Footnote, and whoever else wants to do it) will start their indexing efforts on 2 April 2012, but I may be wrong. Joel pointed out to me that there is still the 72-year privacy rule in effect, so indexing may be delayed until the images are released. Another question arises - can the subscription sites capture the NARA images and provide them, or will they link to the NARA images? Joel points out that the images are not under copyright, being govenrment documents.

* Part 4: Videos -- there are four short films created by the US Census Bureau to train enumerators on their duties and responsibilities.

* Part 5: Informative Articles and Online Data -- there are a number census resources and links about all of the US census records on this page.

It seems to me like the National Archives 1940 census image website is going to be really busy for several weeks in April 2012. I know exactly where my ancestral families were in April 1940, so maybe I'll not even try to look until there are indexes available. I certainly won't try to do any one-name studies until after the indexes are available.

Did anybody else see the spelling errors on the template? What are they? The template was done in 2009, so this is our government bureaucracy in action!

My thanks to Joel for pointing me to the 1940 census page, and for answering my questions.


Jen said...

You didn't mention my favorite addition to the 1940 census: "Enter X after name of person furnishing information." If enumerators actually did this, then we are research will know what is primary and what is secondary information on the census for the first time.

Abba-Dad said...

I love the "Residence, April 1, 1935" section which gives us mid-decade locations.