1940 Census Indexing Project

As many genealogist and family historians are doing, I am also indexing. If you are interested drop by this website:


It’s relative easy to do, but the pay off is awesome. Maybe not at this moment, but when this project is complete it will be awesome.

As you may know, on Monday the 1940 US Census records were released to the public. The bad news, all were just images. A number of websites took most of the week to get all of them online. None Indexed. Meaning, we can’t search for people yet.

The process is that you download an application to your PC, Mac, or iPad, look at a couple of tutorials, read some instructions, and try two test files. Then you are good to go.

I have done 19 batches or census pages, with 40 names per page. So far, I have done about 750 names. A very far cry from the 132 Million names that are on these pages. But, I am doing what I can.

But now I am in competition with my cousin, DearMYRTLE’s Granddaughter. We are working our personal best. I am at 99%, but she has me beat hands down. I am still working on catching up to her. But, she has a real advantage, by having a mother and grandmother both doing genealogy / family history. Must be in the DNA.

That aside, I just wanted to share a couple of points of interest, in doing this indexing.

What’s the chance, of all of the pages of census records, you would be given ONE page for a county where your ancestors came from. Twice I was given pages from Leavenworth, Kansas, where my grandfather was born. Didn’t find family, but what are the chances. I have seen Facebook updates, with indexers with similar experiences.

Come on Pennsylvania.

We hear or talk about F.A.N., Family, Acquaintance, and Neighbors. The 1940 Census is almost a double Census. With the great depression, this census, as I understand it, was hoping to track how families moved between 1935 and 1940. So, one of the questions that everyone was asked was, Where were you on 04/01/1935.

So far, I have done some Delaware, Colorado, and Kansas images. In each case, the pages I indexed would show how these “neighbors” moved, or didn’t move between 1935 and 1940. Patti made a comment, as she was scanning some census images, how ethnic groups travelled together.

To me, that just re-enforced the F.A.N. concept. Who were your neighbors? Look up and down “the block” / street, to see who else lived in the area. This came through indexing as well. “Didn’t I just do that name?”

We are so used to being able to search, instantly, that we have forgotten about the F.A.N. concept, or don’t use it as a good tool.

Many of my family, all four of my Grandparents, lived in the same town. Going back in 3 of the 4 grandparents, my ancestors lived in the Same County. So, being “forced” to visually scan images, I have picked up a number of extended family that I just haven’t searched for before, or didn’t show up on a specific search.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post, that I found my parents in “town” on a well known street, for me. It was a block from where my mother’s parents moved to, at some point after the 1940 census was taken. But, I was able to see who owned that house before the bought the house.

Remembering I had a childhood friend, I was looking “down the street” and found her step-father. So, in these three blocks (200, 300, and 400 block), I found 3 other families, as well as the step-father. There were a number of extended family households, all within this one Enumeration District.

It’s been fun being able to drop an email off to family or friends and say “I found …… in the 1940 Census”.

So, this time period, BI, Before Indexes, is a great time to check out the F.A.N. concept. See who the neighbors were, while you are looking for your own.

If you have some time, please visit the Indexing Project’s website and do a page or two.



2 Responses to 1940 Census Indexing Project

  1. Bree may have you beat in percentage (so far) but you’ve got her on the total numbers! I think she has submitted 5 or 6 batches. I don’t push her, that’s what she’s done on her own. Not bad for a 12 year old who has friends begging to hang out every day.

    Carrie @ Not Your Mother’s Genealogy
    a.k.a “DearMYRTLE’s daughter

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