altAs noted in a previous post, I've been having a blast with the just-released 1940 census.  I did not use's census site as much as I had hoped, as the locations they chose to upload first were not the ones I was, at the time, looking for.  (Their census maps were invaluable, however.)  Initially I had to depend on the National Archives' site, which was more than a little frustrating, as they had seriously underestimated how high demand would be, and the system crashed early in the day.  By the next day it was up, but slow.  Still, I didn't mind too much clicking "next page" and then doing something else for a while.  What was most exasperating was the inability to choose to go to a specific page number without going through the agonizing "next, next, next" process.

I found Steve Morse's site more useful than the NARA's site itself, even though he links to the NARA images.  Don't ask me how he did it, but I got a much faster (though still slow) response time for the NARA images through his site than directly from theirs.

Easiest of all to investigate were my Florida relatives, as Florida was one of the first states uploade by FamilySearch.  They, at least, know the value of the ability to "go to page 5"!  Their save image function worked better than the NARA's did in the early days, also.

The great news is that says it will have every image online by no later than 2 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).  Remember, the 1940 census is free on Ancestry for all of 2012, and much more of Ancestry's impressive content is free until April 10.  FamilySearch is always free.

Ancestry's YouTube channel has a number of videos that might be helpful for someone who wants to dive into this.

As for me, I plan to investigate the Ancestry site once the database is complete, but basically I'll have to wait until the images have been indexed to do much more.  I found all eight of our grandparents and their families, plus a few others who were nearby, because I already knew where they were living in 1940.  For those whose location I'm trying to discover, it makes no sense to spend hours and hours pouring over census images when merely waiting will make the job so much easier.  I'll admit it's fun, though!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Edit
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I read in the paper that you can't search by name. How do you find someone if you don't know where they were living?

Posted by Phil Daley on Thursday, April 05, 2012 at 1:50 pm

That's why I'm waiting for the census to be indexed. I know Ancestry will eventually have an every-name searchable index, and FamilySearch probably will, too.

One thing to do now would be to find the family in 1930; you can search for free on Ancestry. When you have that, you can find what Enumeration District they were in. (It's in the upper right hand corner of the image, and also in the course citation on the Ancestry entry. (Try their new interactive viewer -- it's great.) Or, if it's someone in your family, I may already know their 1930 ED. :)

Once you have the ED, you can enter it into the calculator at Steve Morse's site (link above), and you'll get suggestions as to what 1940 EDs the family might have been living in. Then you can search page by page for each of the EDs until you find them. If they haven't moved between 1930 and 1940, that is.

Using an index is a much more efficient use of time, but browsing the images sometimes leads to serendipitous findings.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, April 05, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Ancestry now has the first two states indexed: Delaware and Nevada. That doesn't help me any, but it shows how fast they're working to get the indices available.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, April 05, 2012 at 9:14 pm
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