National Archives Announces Website for Free 1940 Census Release Online on April 2, 2012

Today the National Archives, with its partner, launched its new website in preparation for its first-ever online U.S. census release, which will take place on April 2, 2012, at 9 a.m. (EST). The public is encouraged to bookmark the website now in order to more quickly access the 1940 census data when it goes live. No other website will host the 1940 census data on its April 2 release date.

The National Archives has teamed up with the U.S. Census Bureau to celebrate "40 Days to the '40 Census." Using social media channels to post videos, images, facts, and links to workshops nationwide, the National Archives is getting its researchers ready for the online launch on April 2.

A National Archives 3:13 minute video short on its YouTube channel ( and on provides a "behind-the-scenes" view of staff preparations and gives viewers tips on how to access the data once it is launched on April 2. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of it.

Background on the 1940 Census

While the original intent of the census was to determine how many representatives each state was entitled to send to the U.S. Congress, it has become a vital tool for Federal agencies in determining allocation of Federal funds and resources. The census is also a key research tool for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists. 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, some reflecting concerns of the Great Depression. 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 census 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 the release of the 1940 census online, the National Archives has digitized the entire census, creating more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps, and enumeration district descriptions.

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