The 1940 Census is out, and you can access it from FamilySearch.org, National Archives, Ancestry.com, and a few other sites. I was just as excited as all of you to see it, and I thought I’d share my experience researching the 1940 Census so far.
I’m a later-in-life child, and as a result, I barely knew my grandparents. I was excited for the 1940 census so I could find my grandparents on it and learn a bit more about them. And, I’ll be honest, I was excited to be the first person in my family to locate my grandparents on the census—it would be like finding a great resource no one had looked at before. I began by trying to locate their correct enumeration districts.
The Genealogy Insider blog really helped me get started; Diane Haddad has spent a lot of time keeping up with which sites have which images uploaded, as well as the indexing progress for each site. I started with FamilySearch since they had Colorado up already, and that is where my maternal grandparents lived in 1940. After locating and poring over images from several enumeration districts, I couldn’t find them. I tried Ancestry.com as well, just to use a different system (their Beta viewer makes it easy to move around the image you’re viewing), but I still haven’t found them.
Just so I wouldn’t lose steam, I decided to go back one generation, and lucky me, those ancestors were from a VERY small town in Idaho. As in, there was only one enumeration district. With two pages of names. Quite easy to find my great-grandfather. It was exciting to find him and read the information contained on the census. I knew my great-grandmother had died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, so I knew he was a widower. Lo and behold, he had remarried, and I never knew that. One of his sons lived with him in 1940 as well as his mother, my great-great grandmother, who was born in England and came to America when she was just six years old. I then learned of his new wife (new since 1930; she wasn’t listed then) and his step-son.
Keeping Track of My Research
When I found those family members, it was easy to save the image to my computer and add it to my FamilyHistoryNotebook, filed away in my Higginson notebook. I tagged the image with the names I found on the record so that future searches into my own research would be easy for me. Now I have easy access to it whenever I need it, and it won’t take me more than a few moments to locate it in my organization system.
I am currently still searching for my maternal grandparents. My paternal grandparents lived in San Francisco in 1940, so that should be another intense yet interesting search. I’ll need a bit more information about where they lived for that, I think. Or I can help the indexing effort to help make the 1940 census searchable.
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