1940 Census: Just six days away – Get prepared

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Genealogists around the world and members of WorldVitalRecords.com are thrilled that the release of the 1940 census is less than one week away!

Here at WorldVitalRecords, a MyHeritage Company, we are excited about the news released last week that the census images will be available at www.worldvitalrecords.com/1940census for free as well as on the MyHeritage 1940 Census Site.

On April 2nd the census images will be made available via both sites the same day they are released by the National Archives. The census images will also be indexed and – as quickly as they are made available – added to the sites.

From April 2 and beyond, you’ll be able to search our sites and census images free of charge.  To search, it will be best if you do some preparation ahead of time and know where to look among the 132 million estimated individuals included in the 1940 census images.

Census images are broken down to the state and county levels and then to enumeration districts (EDs), the area which an enumerator could cover in a limited amount of time. In big cities, the ED may only be a few blocks. In rural areas, the ED was much larger and the census-taker had a month to cover that.

To make it easy to find your family, you need basic information as to where they were on April 1, 1940.

To find where they were living, you may have to do some digging in your family tree records or simply talk to those alive then. Gather as much information as you can to narrow down the location.

It is best to find the street they lived on, along with the major cross streets near their home, as well as county, city and state. In some cases, those streets may no longer exist or were renamed, the county may have changed and there may be other situations, such as new neighborhoods that did not exist in 1930. You may need to do research to come up with the most likely EDs to search.

Be prepared with as much information as possible prior to April 2. Do some searching now for the EDs, so you’ll know which EDs to look at. This may be a better way, rather than calling your grandmother at 2am to ask for her address in 1940 – that might not go over so well.

A great site to help in discovering the correct ED is www.SteveMorse.org . Steve offers many ED finder tools.

Here is a great 1940 census historical video which will take you back in time to when your family participated in the census from the perspective of the census taker.

The image below is a copy of the 1940 Census Form – by taking some time to look through it prior to April 2nd you’ll have a better idea of the information you can find in the census.

1940 Census on WorldVitalRecords.com

1940 Census on WorldVitalRecords.com

Click to Enlarge and Zoom

Life in 1940 was entirely different than now, 72 years later!  Here is a fantastic infographic from MyHeritage showing some of the interesting facts about that time.

Life in 1940

Life In 1940

Happy Census Searching – we’d love to hear about your questions about the 1940 census and what you will be looking for in the comments below.

Mark Olsen


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