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Find Your Family - Finding your ancestors in the 1940 census

Article Date: 
13 April, 2012 (All day)


Well, it’s finally here.  On April 2, the United States National Archive released the images of the 1940 census.  Almost immediately the National Archive site was virtually down, it was so slow.  Over the past week the site performance has steadily improved, but it continues to run a little slow.  What is not as well known is that the images are also available on and on .  Both of these sites are making the images available for free.  If you know where your ancestor lived, you can now find the image in the census.  If you don’t know where they lived you can go to who has offered to find your ancestor for you in the 1940 census.  Images will also shortly be available on

The next phase is to create an index of the census.  Work has already begun at Ancestry and FamilySearch.  Indexes for Delaware and Nevada are currently available on Ancestry.  Delaware is available on FamilySearch.  Colorado and Oregon will be following shortly on FamilySearch.  Both organizations are creating an every name index of the census records.  Ancestry has committed to have the records free until 2013.  FamilySearch has announced that the census will be available for free forever.

FamilySearch also released a full set of census indexes for 1790 to 1930, all free.  There are images free for many of the years, some of the years require payment to Ancestry or Fold3 to see the images.  All of the images will become free on FamilySearch in about three years.

About twenty thousand individuals daily are indexing on FamilySearch to make the 1940 index available to everyone who wants to search it.  If you have some time I invite you to participate in indexing.  You will find it a fun experience that will serve others.  The more individuals that participate, the quicker all of us will be able to find our ancestors.  If you would like to see the progress of indexing visit .

If you would like to find a few interesting people in the census visit census.  There are details there on Jimmy Hoffa, Judy Garland, Walt Disney, and Chuck Norris.  All are in the 1940 census and there are details on them in the blog on FamilySearch.  

I will confess to being a little census crazy.  It seems like I have been living and breathing it for several months, but it is amazing to see the quality of the images and indexes and begin to learn a little more about my ancestors.  Utah is not up yet for indexing, but I expect that it will be within the week.