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Kimberly Powell

Where to View 1940 US Census Images & Indexes

By April 3, 2012

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The launch of the 1940 census on April 2 was far more popular than even the experts predicted. Over 25 million hits (1.9 million users) in the first few hours brought the National Archives 1940 Census website, hosted by Archives.com, to a grinding halt. The National Archives reported that at one point their servers were receiving up to 100,000 requests per second, with each requested image being 10 MB+. 1940 Census was even the #1 "Hot Search" both yesterday, and again today, according to Google Trends. As disappointing as it was to not be able to just dig into the images immediately, I can't say anything bad about the excitement this is generating for family history!

As of this morning, I can now easily view images on several major genealogy websites -- including the National Archives 1940 Census website, MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, FamilyLink.com, and FamilySearch.org. The first of the 1940 census indexes are also now available. If you want to look for your relatives in the 1940 census, here's a list of the 1940 census sites with their available images and indexes. Everything is FREE unless indicated otherwise.

Last updated: 10 April 2012 at 11:01 a.m. EDT

National Archives 1940 Census
Images currently available: ALL U.S. states and territories
The official site of the National Archives, hosted by Archives.com, was the first to offer full access to the 1940 census, includes census record images for all U.S. states and territories. No name index, but you can search by address (state, county, and street). See How to Find People in the 1940 US Census for tips.

Images currently available: ALL U.S. States & Territories
Indexed: Rhode Island
MyHeritage was the first commercial genealogy site to get images of the entire U.S. census online, plus is developing their own searchable name index, completely free of charge. MyHeritage users who have built family trees on the website will have the added bonus of being able to sign up to receive free, automatic alerts about 1940 census records matching individuals in their family tree. Look for the latest indexing updates on Twitter (@MyHeritage). The same 1940 census images and index are also available on their other family history sites, World Vital Records and FamilyLink. They also launched a new version of the MyHeritage mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android, last week which allows users to search the 1940 census on-the-go.

Images currently available: ALL U.S. States & Territories
Ancestry.com loaded the entire set of 1940 census images within just a few days, while also enhancing the records for better readability. They are available for free browsing, and the site has been running well with few slowdowns. In addition to the 1940 census, Ancestry.com is also offering free access to 1 billion 1940s-era records, including city directories, passenger lists, vital records (birth, marriage, and death), military records, and more, from April 2-10, 2012. A detailed index is being created in partnership with the University of Minnesota, with indexes for the states of Nevada and Delaware currently available.

Images currently available: Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia
FamilySearch is heading up the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, a large volunteer crowd-sourcing effort to rapidly index the entire 1940 census and make the index available online for free. While indexing is ongoing, FamilySearch is also uploading 1940 census images for free online browsing. Consider joining the volunteer indexing project to help make the 1940 census more easily accessible for all.

Part of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project indexing the 1940 census, findmypast will also offer online images of the 1940 census records. They don't have anything available online as of yet, but are offering to do the searching for you! Complete their Who are you looking for in the 1940 census? form and they will email you when the records become available.

This previously unknown company (at least to me) sent out a press release announcing that they would be creating a free index to the 1940 census and the first names would be online and searchable within 24 hours. The press release also says that the census images are immediatly available on their website, but as of now nothing is available but a holding page.

April 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(1) Jenny says:

I’ve been searching through the 1940 census and found a huge mistake about a family member and wonder how to get it corrected.

My g-grandmother was in a mental hospital in 1940 and they have her first name and age wrong. I’m assuming the information was copied from records and sadly it probably wasn’t important to the census taker to get the correct information.

June 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm
(2) Dan says:

You want to correct the 1930 census? That’s insane!

July 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(3) DonS says:

Lesson #1 for amateur genealogists: You do not, nor can you “correct” an original record. It is what it is, not what you think it should be or which later information proves it to be incorrect. You can, of course, footnote the record in your own files or in genealogical files you post or send to others.

May 7, 2013 at 8:44 pm
(4) Don#2 says:

Gee thanks Don for the factual course on the lessons – very helpful. Are you sure that isn’t lesson 7?

February 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm
(5) Mary Rae says:

Can the census be searched by location. I am a 65 yr old adoptee looking for my family. No names but have my city of birth and adoption. And know ages of my parents and siblings.

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