Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and FamilySearch.org (plus its 1940 Census Community Project partner sites) all have free record images available for the 1940 census.
All three sites also are in the process of creating and publishing searchable name indexes to the records. As of this posting, a total of 16 states (update: 20 states on 6/1), part of another one, and the District of Columbia are searchable.
Here are the states you can search at each site:
- Ancestry.com: You can search name indexes for Delaware, Maine, Nevada and Washington, DC. A chart on the 1940 census page lets you see indexing progress.
- FamilySearch.org: FamilySearch’s volunteer indexers so far appear to be outpacing the paid contractors Ancestry.com and MyHeritage are using. You can search 14 states/territories by your ancestor’s name: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Kansas, Utah and Wyoming.
FamilySearch.org’s indexing progress map colors searchable states orange. To search, click the state on the map.
- Archives.com: At this 1940 Census Community Project partner site, you can search name indexes to the same states available at FamilySearch. To access the unindexed portion of the census, this site sends you to the National Archives’ 1940 census site (which Archives.com designed and hosts).
- FindMyPast.com: As a 1940 Census Community Project partner, FindMyPast.com has the same states indexed as FamilySearch (though Alaska, a territory in 1940, is missing from the color-coded map on the home page). Update 6/1: FindMyPast also now shows Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana as searchable, though these states are not yet searchable on FamilySearch.org. Look for that to change soon.
- MyHeritage: Here, you can search a name index for Rhode Island, and a partial name index for New York.
The 1940 census records also are available on FamilyLink.com, which MyHeritage purchased last year. You’ll need to register for a free account on the site (if you don’t already have an account there) to view the records.