On 2 April 2012, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States made the 1940 U.S. Census of 135 million individuals publicly available online. This census is the largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set available that records the names of those who were living in the United State at that time. The 1940 Census Community Indexing Project was a national collaborative effort that used the Internet and a large volunteer workforce to speed up the process of indexing the historic census records.
The 1940 U.S. Census is now digitally preserved forever, and the general public has incredibly convenient, free online access to volumes of rich historical information that could be relevant to their personal family history. Anyone with genealogical roots in the U.S. in 1940 is now benefitting from the project. St. Croix Valley Genealogical Society was a participating society in this grand indexing project to help make the U.S. Census easier to search for everyone.
The 1940 census included several standard questions, such as name, age, gender, race, education, and place of birth. But the census also introduced some new questions, like where people lived five years prior to this census, their highest educational grade achieved, and detailed information on their income and occupation.
Interest in the 1940 U.S. Census is significant and sentimental because it documents what is often referred to as “The Greatest Generation” of U.S. citizens, many of whom are still alive today. As a group, these are individuals who:
- Survived the Great Depression
- Fought in WWII and sacrificed in the name of freedom
- Practiced thrift and compassion
- Understood hard work and industry
- Innovated technology, such as the television and microwave
The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, in addition to FamilySearch, received support from Archives.com, findmypast.com, and leading societal organizations like the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society.
To see a 1940 U.S. Census form and the questions asked by the enumerator, click on the link. The form will open in Adobe Reader. Hold down the Ctrl key and roll the wheel of your mouse away from you to you enlarge the type. Scroll down or roll the wheel of the mouse toward you to see the reverse side of the census form.
On 2 July 2012, only three months after the release of the 1940 Federal Census, Family Search Indexing gave us a challenge and another chance to make history. The goal was to index and/or arbitrate five million names (or records) in a 24-hour period. No other name transcription project has ever come close to this number. In less than 16 hours, the five-million-records goal had been surpassed. 45,841 indexers and arbitrators participated in this historic event. The final count was 10,315,485 records indexed or arbitrated. Of those, 7,257,282 were indexed and 3,058,203 were arbitrated. An amazing feat! Congratulations to all St. Croix Valley Genealogical Society indexers and arbitrators who helped with this monumental achievement!