FamilySearch has quietly published free access to all of the United States Census, just as the 1940 project gets seriously underway. More than a year ago FamilySearch announced a joint project with Ancestry.com to improve the currently published censuses. Ancestry provided their index to the censuses and volunteers at FamilySearch did a second index of all the names. The results were then arbitrated to create a better quality index. FamilySearch created a new set of higher quality digital images from the original microfilm for many of the years as well.
The project is now nearing completion and FamilySearch has been quietly publishing the results. All of the census indexes have now been published for free on FamilySearch.org. All of the images are published except 1880, which will be coming shortly. Not all of the images are free to use from home. Some require a subscription to Ancestry.com or Fold3.com. All images can be viewed for free at the Morgan Family History center. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may also view all the images for free from home if they sign in with their FamilySearch accounts.
For those doing research this means that ancestors who may have been impossible to find because of transcription errors may now be able to be found. It also means that those who struggle with the cost of an Ancestry subscription will have free access to an even higher quality index than has historically been on Ancestry.
FamilySearch is also very close to publishing Utah in the 1940 census. It appears that within the next week Utah is likely to be published on FamilySearch. Many other states are also nearing publication. Colorado, Kansas, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Florida are nearly complete or in the final stages of publishing. Delaware was published more than a week ago.
The censuses are the most important record for United States research where birth ,marriage, and death records are spotty as you move into the past with research. Censuses also provide a unique look into the lives of our ancestors. The provide a look at where they lived, who lived with them, family relationships, where they were born, what their occupation was, and many other details.
The census has been taken every ten years since 1790. 1850 is the first census year to list all the members of the household. Prior to 1850 only the head of household was listed by name. The other members were only counted. If you haven’t searched the census recently, now would be a great time to take another look. You may find that an elusive ancestor can be located or you may find that an image that was unreadable in the past is now clear.
2012 seems to be the year of the census. Have a look and watch for Utah to be released for 1940 within the next week or so.