How to Find Your Ancestors in the 1940 Census

It's almost here! The 1940 census release happens at 9 a.m EDT on April 2, 2012; you can find it at the the official National Archives 1940 Census site. Genealogists around the world are gearing up for the big event, but finding your ancestors in newly-released (and unindexed) census records can be a challenge. We have a variety of tools to make sure you know exactly how to make the most of the 1940 census.
We've pulled together a collection of our favorite tools and tips for working with census records. Start by reviewing these free articles:
Then, listen to the July 2011 episode of our free monthly genealogy podcast, which discusses 1940 enumeration districts.
Next, check out our FREE webinar on how to find your family in the 1940 census records. Since this census won't have an index when it's released, you'll need to know where to look in order to find your ancestors. This video shows you how to use a free genealogy tool that helps you pinpoint exactly what 1940 enumeration district your family is in. Here's a sneak peek:
You can view the entire video for free here.
Finally, check out these tools for becoming an expert census user: 


Your Guide to the 1940 US Census

Census Records OnlineGet ready for the 1940 census release by signing up for our newsletter via the form at the top of this page. Once you complete your registration, you'll receive this free download full of tips on how to get the most out of the US census records.

The Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference

Genealogist's Census Pocket ReferenceCensus records are a key source for tracing your family tree-and this handy collection puts census-related resources, tips, lists and need-to-know facts at your fingertips!
Use The Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference to find:
  • websites with census records and date
  • questions from each U.S. census 1790 to 1940
  • maps of the territory covered in each federal census
  • a key to common abbreviations
  • instructions to enumerators
  • population and immigration trends
  • explanations of special schedules
  • state and international census resources

… and so much more! Stash this indispensable book in your computer case, tote bag—or yes, your pocket—and take it with you whenever you research.

Order The Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference now on

Online Census Secrets On-Demand Webinar

1940 Online Census Secrets Webinar Census records are the no. 1 resource for US genealogy. You can use them to trace your ancestral families back in time decade by decade, and even discover new branches of your family tree. All US census records up to 1930 are online, and the 1940 census records will be available in April 2012.

Most genealogists know, though, that it's not as easy as simply typing in a name. To successfully trace your ancestors, you need to know where to look and how to make the most of census websites. This hour-long webinar will tell you exactly what you need to know to make the most of the US censuses available online.


  • What to expect when using the 1940 census
  • Key facts about US censuses and census websites
  • How to access online census records for free
  • How to use the major online census collections at, HeritageQuest Online and other sites
  • How different sites' records and indexes compare
  • Search strategies for finding elusive ancestors
Order Online Census Secrets On-Demand Webinar now on

Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Strategies

The census contains a wealth of information for US genealogists and is the cornerstone of a sound family history. In the census you can learn about families, education, wealth and even how long a marriage lasted or the number of children a woman bore. In this four-week Family Tree University course, we'll cover the early censuses from 1790 through 1840, and censuses that list all household members, from 1850 through 1930. This course is only $39.99 for the April 30 session only. That's a $60 savings off the regular price!
  • the type of information found in each federal census
  • how to analyze census records
  • how to find and search online census databases
  • how to find ancestors using microfilmed Soundex indexes
  • how to use early "head-of-household" censuses
  • alternatives for missing records (such as the lost 1890 census)
  • what special "nonpopulation" census records you should also look for
  • hints and techniques in each lesson
Register for the discounted April 30 sesson of Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Strategies now

Census Secrets CD

US Census SecretsYou can't beat the US census for tracking your ancestral families — but researching in those every-10-years enumerations isn't without its challenges.

This CD has tools and how-to's to help you get past census research obstacles, including quick-reference guides that put census facts at your fingertips and worksheets and checklists to track your finds. All content is in PDF format — compatible with both Windows and Macintosh — so you can click directly to recommended websites and search the CD's contents to quickly find what you're looking for.

On this CD:

    Help getting started with the census and finding elusive ancestors
    Search techniques and browsing tips to help you navigate online records
    Tips for using early censuses that enumerate ancestors in age groups— naming only heads of household
    Guide to an often-overlooked resource: supplemental censuses of select population groups
    Convenient worksheets for your data from each census, 1790-1930, column by column
    • At-a-glance guides for quick reference
    • State-by-state census fast facts
    • Charts of websites with US and Canadian records
    • Directory of census websites, books and other resources
Order the Census Secrets CD now on

Get Started Tracing Your Roots

Need more help getting started? Our two-week Discover Your Family Tree class at Family Tree University is just for beginners. Sessions start regularly to fit your schedule! 


Family Tree Magazine has a wealth of how-to helps just for beginners. Click on the images below for our free research forms and cheat sheets, links to the best genealogy websites and products for new genealogists.
Free Genealogy Forms Including 1940s Census Worksheet 101 Best Genealogy Websites Genealogy for Beginners

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