Lessons Learned –1940 Census–Indexing

Coming to the end of the second week of the 1940 Census records, I thought that I would pause a minute to reflect on Lessons Learned from all of this. Was it work or fun?

One of the things that I wanted to do, besides my own research, was to help with the indexing of the 1940 Census. I signed up at Family Search for this.



Not having done much indexing before, and now I remember why I haven’t why. If I can’t read my own handwriting some times, how am I going to read others. (that’s why I use a computer).

As of this morning, I have indexed about 1,750 names. My goal was 2 pages a day, so I have gone way beyond my goal. There were a couple reasons for that:

  • I had some time to do the indexing
  • Several groups / organizations took on the challenge of indexing

During week one, I assisted my cousin, Dear Myrtle, in a week webinar, one hour each night last week, where the purpose was to share our findings, learn from others, and how to use the tools that we have in place to find who we are looking for.

Here is a link to the archives to those webinars.


A special THANK YOU to Bruce Busby of Roots Magic for hosting the webinars and making them available to the genealogy community.

I don’t know what the numbers were, but there were close to 500 people on these webinars. Blew my mind.

During one of them, Dear Myrtle made that Blog entry, and challenged me to see if I could reach Bree’s personal best. How can you beat 100%. I took the challenge, and lost. Still haven’t gotten to 100%, but I am trying.

BUT, what did I learn ….

I have heard many talks about the F.A.N. club. Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors. I have used that theory before, that indexing really brought that home.

The 1940 Census was almost a double census, in there was a question about where you were on April 1, 1935. The answer to the questions showed how many people stayed where they were or moved. Only seeing one page of 40 entries at a time, I still could see that ‘groups’ of these household were in the same “different” place in 1935. The focus on the indexing was to get the data entered, but you still could pick up that several households were in a different place 5 years earlier, but the same different place.

A couple of pages, working on a specific state, I saw the Birth State of a group of households had the same birth state, but a different birth state. It gave hints that some of the people in these household, moved from their place of birth to this new state for the 1940 Census, or moved from one place to another from the 1935 to 1940 Census.

Was it true, I don’t know, but the F.A.N. theory appears to be in play here. There have been several times, when you would see “family” a couple of households down the page. Were they “family” or was it by accident that the same surname was down the block.

Back to index another batch.


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