1940 Census Records Available for Free

If you’ve ever tried to navigate or build your family tree, research your ancestors, or look-up your grand parents old address to see if they lived next to someone famous then you’ve probably tried to use the 1930 census.

When my youngest son turned six last summer I realized that my dad was six in 1930 so I decided to try and locate the 1930 census from when he was a six year old boy. I found the page and it reveals some really interesting information.

What’s great about reading census data is you get to see a lot of information such as the State, county, city, street name, house number, names, relation, home data if they owned or rented or if they had a radio or lived on a farm.  Personal descriptions include gender, color or race, age at last birthday, marital status and age at first marriage. You can also use the data to estimate year of birth for searching other records. The education information includes facts such as if they could read or write or if they attended school. The 1930 Census also shows place of birth to locate immigration records. Once they release the 1940 Census well dive into what can be found.

Here’s a video from Ancestry that explains a lot about the census page.

The 1940 census was released online on April 2, 2012 and is available from the 1940census.archives.gov.

This is where you will be able to access the digitized census records. The digital images will be accessible free of charge at NARA facilities nationwide through our public access computers as well as on personal computers via the internet.

This video demonstrates how far we’ve come in 72 years. As you watch a dramatized review of the major questions relating to general population for the 1940 census schedule, this film demonstrates to enumerators how to accurately identify and enter the names of all members of a household, determine employment status, and identify categories of employment. Try not to laugh too hard when watching this one – wow.
[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwZk6rASC8k”]

What can you do now in preparation for the opening of the 1940 Census?

  1. Make a list of all the people you want to look for in the 1940 census. Think broadly–ancestors, their siblings, cousins, etc.–anybody to whom you are related.
  2. Collect addresses for these people for whom you plan to search.
    Sources for addresses include:

    • City Directories (NARA has original Circa 1940 City Directories for Washington, DC. TheLibrary of Congress holds a large nationwide collection of city directories and many libraries hold local directories.)
    • The 1930 Census (useful for people who did not move between 1930 and 1940). If you have a person’s enumeration district (ED) number from the 1930 Census you can use “The Converting between 1930 and 1940 Census ED1940s in One Step” search utility at http://stevemorse.org/census/ed2040.php?year=1940 to find the equivalent ED for the 1940 Census.
    • World War II Draft Records (contact the National Archives’ Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived)
    • Naturalization Petitions or Declarations of Intent filed close to 1940 (contact the National Archives’ Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived)

Source: Archives.gov

Many of the questions on the 1940 census are the standard ones: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. But the 1940 census also asks many new questions. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter a ‘circled x’ after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. The 1940 also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person’s father and mother; the person’s usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24-30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage.

For a complete list of questions visit 1940 Census Questions

Need information on more current census? Check out the 2010 Census statistic