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Find Your Family - A Census Christmas Gift

Article Date: 
23 December, 2011 (All day)

As the clock ticks towards the release of the 1940 census, FamilySearch released new information on how they plan to produce a free version of the census, both index and images.  They said the following:

Three leading genealogy organizations,, FamilySearch International, and, announced today they are joining forces to launch the 1940 US Census Community Project. The ambitious project aims to engage online volunteers to quickly publish a searchable, high quality name index to the 1940 US Census after it is released in April 2012 by the National Archives and Record Administration of the United States (NARA). The highly anticipated 1940 US Census is expected to be the most popular US record collection released to date. Its completion will allow anyone to search the record collection by name for free online. Learn more about this exciting initiative or how to volunteer at

The 1940 US Census Community Project is also receiving additional support from leading societal organizations like the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, and Ohio Genealogical Society.

The population of the US in 1940 was approximately 130 million. NARA’s census images will not have a searchable index. The goal of the 1940 US Census Community Project is to create a high quality index online linked to the complete set of census images as soon as possible. The index will allow the public to easily search every person found in the census and view digital images of the original census pages. The collection will be available online for free to the general public at,, and, the sponsors of the community project. This new collection will open access to family history research like never before for this period in the US.

“The 1940 Census is attractive to both new and experienced researchers because most people in the US can remember a relative that was living in 1940. It will do more to connect living memory with historical records and families than any other collection previously made available,” said David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch.

The collaborative project will also pool the collective resources, know-how, and marketing reach of, FamilySearch, and to engage and coordinate the volunteer workforce needed to deliver the ambitious project. Additionally, and will make substantial financial contributions to make the 1940 US Census online name index possible and work with nonprofit FamilySearch to bring additional new records collections online--making even more highly valued family history resources available to the entire genealogical community.

FamilySearch has developed an impressive global online community of volunteers over the past 5 years to help create free indexes to millions of the world’s historic records. The scope and size of the 1940 US Census Community Project will require tens of thousands of additional volunteers.

This is a first of its kind collaboration in the genealogical community.  It also gives some clues as to how FamilySearch plans to approach producing the census.  At this point there will be two census projects.  Ancestry plans to produce an index of 1940 that they will make free for a year.  FamilySearch, with the two partners, will produce the index and it will be free in perpetuity.  I hope that this partnership between FamilySearch,, and signals future projects that bring the industry together to produce more free records.  This announcement is a great Christmas present for genealogists all over the United States.