Several genealogy websites threw their hats in the ring as the release of the 1940 census approached (and this magazine went to press). Companies were tight-lipped about which states’ records would go online first, how long it would take, and what their sites would look like, but we pried out details to help you get your ancestors’ 1940 census records. Here’s what to expect when you go online.
40 is where it’s at
The only website with 1940 census records on April 2 was the National Archives/Archives.com free partner site. The moment those digitized records became public, several other companies rushed to start uploading record images to their own sites. The following sites are in various stages of completing their 1940 census collections. Depending when these sites upload records for your ancestors’ states, you may or may not find the records there:
- MyHeritage.com websitesWorldVitalRecords.comFamilyLink.com
Watch out for sites that try to charge a fee for viewing 1940 census records: There’s no need to pay; the records are available free.
Page by page
1. Search by the ancestor’s address, ED or geographic location (such as “Seattle, Washington”).
Depending which of the above methods you used, how populous your ancestor’s area is and what route the census enumerator followed, you might land right on the census page you needor many pages away from it. So you’ll need to browse the records, which works a lot like scrolling through microfilm (except it’s less dizzying). This means you’ll examine the names on each page, looking for your family members. If you don’t find them, look for the right and left arrow buttons that let you “turn” to the previous or next page. When you find your folks, you’ll be able to download the record image and maybedepending which website you’re onattach it to those people in your online family tree.
Is there a problem here?
- Double-check your research to make sure you have the correct address for the family.
- Repeat the steps for finding the ED in case you made a mistake.
- Verify the makeup of the family on Census Day.
- Make a list of given-name and surname variations to keep in mind as you look.
- Search for the census records of any friends or relatives your family might’ve been staying with in 1940.
- Let your eyes rest and re-check the records.
- Ask a genealogy friend to scan the records in case you missed your kin.
- Wait for one of the census record providers to post a name index for your ancestors’ state.