40 Days to the 1940 U.S. Census Release

21 Feb 2012

In just over a month, the 1940 census will become available to the public for the first time. Like the 1930 census, no name index was ever created for this census. Archives.com, FamilySearch, and FindMyPast.com are sponsoring a project to create a free index to this census. You can find out more about participating in this indexing project at the1940census.com.

The schedule itself asks 34 questions. 13 of these applied only to those age 14 or older, and asked questions about employment status. The remaining questions are the usual ones concerning name, age, education, place of birth, citizenship, etc. Five of the questions pertain to the person’s place of residence on April 1, 1935. These questions represent an interest in the tremendous migrations that took place during the Great Depression as individuals looked for work. For the first time, however, enumerators were asked to mark the individual who provided the information about the family, by placing a circled X next to that person’s name in the schedule.

You can read more about the 1940 census at NARA’s website. Among other things, you can look at an original blank 1940 census form, and download a template there. To be prepared for the April 2 release, bookmark 1940census.archives.gov, as this is the only place you will initially be able to access the census. In the meantime, the National Archives has produced a YouTube video to introduce researchers to the census, starring the genealogist’s best friend at NARA, Connie Potter: