I think the biggest lesson learned, with the unindexed 1940 Census, that some of us are in too much of a rush to capture information about our families. We want some search engine to “find my family”, oh, and in a hurry.
I had a long, back and forth, email conversation with a colleague about the 1940 census. He is going to wait until “it’s indexed”. As hard as I tried, with some of my experiences of last week, he’s waiting.
A goal I have for this year, is to clean up my database. In March, I spent a lot of time getting ready for 9:00 AM, Monday, April 2, 2012 to have access to them. I focused on the documentation for the information I had from the 1930 Census, including Citation material. I blogged about that earlier.
I had my genealogy database management system in pretty good shape to give me a report to work from, for scanning the 1940 Census. One report I ran, gave me the 8 most important people to find, and where I should find them.
Learning of what I needed to find the Enumeration Districts from the 1930 Census, to narrow the scanning in the 1940 Census, I found that I should be able to find 89 people, based on what I had from 1930.
On Monday, at 6:00AM, I noticed that someone said images were coming online. Not waiting for 9:00, I started my quest. I have posted some of those success stories here already.
But, the point of this message, is that the lack of indexes, hurry up and wait, has forced me so slow down and look at these images, page by page to see what or who else I might find. Folks who I may not have found in the 1930 census.
I have focused on one County in Pennsylvania. I was born and grew up in that area, still have family there, and visit when I can.
I started on my 1940 list, but as I did, I started to see names that I knew as I scrolled by, but weren’t on my list. I had a goal to get at some of those 89 people on my To-Do list.
I hit the “low hanging fruit”, those on my list, and families I know should have been there, and were. Today, I am going back, ED by ED, to “get the rest of the story”. I have looked at about 200 pages of census records and found 5 more families, while looking for those who had not been so easy to find.
I re-ran my 1930 list, removed those who I have found, removed those who have died, and my list is down to about 50, but that doesn’t include from that I have added, just by looking, page by page.
I have added 24 new people to my database, just by reviewing the census images. I have added 4 households that I found in the 1940 Census that I had not found in the 1930.
Lesson Learned: stop and return rolling those microfilms, but in the comfort of your home, page by page, pays off sometimes. At least it did for me.