Get Some Extra Help Finding Your Family in the 1940 Census (4/15/12)

News Release – For Immediate Release: April 4, 2012
Santa Monica, CA. April 4, 2012: The 1940 Census has finally been released and you can now browse the images online. But the waiting’s not over, since you still won’t be able to search the whole census by person until it’s fully indexed in several months.

Help, however, is at hand. Findmypast.com has come up with a way to make your search quicker and simpler – by offering to do the searching for you.

Findmypast.com is the new U.S. addition to the global network of findmypast family history websites, launched in a limited, early form in time for the 1940 Census. Its unique new, customized feature, created for the 1940 Census, is called “We’ll find them for you” and is now live.

All you have to do is to visit findmypast.com, submit the name of the person you’re searching for, plus some extra clues, and findmypast.com will email you as soon as the person’s records become available.

“We’re taking the hassle and delay out of searching”, says Brian Speckart, marketing manager of findmypast.com. “With this new feature, findmypast.com is going the extra mile to help you find your past as quickly and easily as possible.”

While the whole census won’t be searchable for several months, the records of individual U.S. states will be made searchable earlier, one state at a time. A couple of them are likely to be done by mid-April.

Some genealogy sites are offering to alert users simply when a particular state has been indexed. “But we’re going further and finding the particular individual you’re looking for”, says Speckart.

You have to tell findmypast.com in which state the person was living at the time of the 1940 Census. “As soon as that state is indexed, we run a program against the data to find the individual you’re looking for you and then email you the links we find”, says Speckart.

The job of indexing states one by one is being done by an army of volunteers under the banner of the 1940 Community Project, of which findmypast.com is a proud member.

Visitors to findmypast.com will be able to use the site’s new “We’ll find them for you” feature to submit details of the person they want to find.

Supplying the person’s first and last name and state where they were living in 1940 is all that’s required but providing additional clues will help findmypast.com narrow down the search results. Other helpful information includes approximate year of birth, likely birth city, place of residence in 1940 and names of other household members.

The new service isn’t just limited to family members either. Users can submit details of celebrities or other public figures and ask findmypast.com to find them too.
“So, if you happen to know that Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma Jean and which state she called home in 1940, we’ll find her for you too”, says Speckart.

Genealogy Just Got More Exciting! The 1940 Census is Here (4/3/12)

It’s not every day that a new record group becomes available that will help you learn more about your family history. But yesterday, April 2, 2012 was one of those special days! Who will you be looking for?  Do you plan on volunteering to help with indexing?

National Archives Releases 1940 Census

Washington, D.C. . . Ever wondered where your family lived before WWII;  whether they owned their home; if they ever attended high school or college; if they were born in the United States, and if not, where?  Unlocking family mysteries and filling in the blanks about family lore became much easier today with the release of the 1940 census by the National Archives and Records Administration.  By law the information on individuals in the decennial censuses, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is locked away for 72 years.

1940 census archives.com

In a 9 A.M. ceremony in the William G. McGowan Theater, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero declared the 1940 census officially open. This is the 16th decennial census, marking the 150th anniversary of the census.  Performing the first search, Mr. Ferriero said, “It is very exciting for families across America to have access to this wealth of material about the 1930s.  Many of us will be discovering relatives and older family members that we didn’t know we had, picking up threads of information that we thought were lost, and opening a window into the past that until now has been obscured We now have access to a street-level view of a country in the grips of a depression and on the brink of global war.”

Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau added: “Releasing census records is an odd event for us; we spend all our lives keeping the data we collect confidential. However, once every 10 years, we work with the National Archives and Records Administration to release 72-year old census records that illuminate our past. We know how valuable these records are to genealogists and think of their release as another way to serve the American public.”

For the first time, the National Archives is releasing an official decennial census online. The 3.9 million images constitute the largest collection of digital information ever released by the National Archives.  The free official website http://1940census.archives.gov/, hosted by Archives.com, includes a database of Americans living within the existing 48 states and 6 territories on April 2, 1940.

“There is a great synergy between the National Archives and Archives.com stemming from our passion to bring history online,” said John Spottiswood, Vice President, Business Development, Archives.com.  He continued, “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with the National Archives to bring the 1940 census to millions of people, the most anticipated record collection in a decade. In a short period, we’ve built a robust website that allows people to browse, share, print, and download census images. We encourage all to visit 1940census.archives.gov to get started on their family history!”

The census database released today includes an index searchable at the enumeration district level.  An enumeration district is an area that a census taker could cover in two weeks in an urban area and one month in a rural area.

To make the search for information easier, the National Archives has joined a consortium of groups to create a name-based index.  Leading this effort, FamilySearch is recruiting as many as 300,000 volunteers to enter names into a central database.

Questions asked in the 1940 census, which reflect the dislocation of the Great Depression of the 1930s, will yield important information not only for family historians and genealogists, but also for demographers and social and economic historians.  We learn not only if a family owned or rented their home, but the value of their home or their monthly rent.  We can find lists of persons living in the home at the time of the census, their names, ages and relationship to the head of household.  For the first time the census asked where a family was living five years earlier: on April 1, 1935.  This information might offer clues to migration patterns caused by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  For the first time in the census, a question relating to wages and salary was asked. Persons 14 years old and over were asked questions regarding their employment status:  Were they working for pay or profit in private or nonemergency government work during the week of March 24–March 30, 1940?  Were they seeking work? How many hours did they work during the last week of March? How many weeks did they work in 1939?  What was their occupation and in what industry?

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