National Archives to Release 1940 Census Free Online on April 2, 2012

The National Archives today announced its selection of Inflection, parent company to family history web site, to design and host a free web site for the April 2, 2012, at 9 AM (EST) launch of the 1940 U.S. Census. This is the first time that the National Archives has released a U.S. Census online.

On April 2, 2012, users will be able to search, browse, and download the 1940 Census schedules from their own computers or from the public computers at National Archives locations nationwide through the new 1940 Census web site, free of charge.

Please note, a name index will not exist when the information is first released in April. The National Archives has indexed the schedules by state, county, city, township or minor civil division, and enumeration district. Researchers can prepare for the launch by searching the 1940 Census maps and enumeration district descriptions in the National Archives' Online Public Access catalog, then browse the 1940 Census population schedules for that enumeration district.

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.

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 is also a key research tool for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists.

Questions on the 1940 Census include standard ones such as: name, age, gender, race, education, and place of birth. It also asks new questions, reflecting concerns of the Great Depression. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter an X after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; to note whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940; and to list where they lived on April 1, 1935.

The 1940 Census also has a supplemental schedule for preselected lines on each page. This schedule asks the place of birth of the person's father and mother, and the person's usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24-30, 1940. All women included in the supplemental form were asked if they had ever been married, how many times, and at what age did the first marriage take place.

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