In just 11 short days, the 1940 US Census will be released to the public. Family History buffs, genealogists, and curious researchers will flock to the free access to search for their relatives in the census. But wait… there’s no index!? How can I find my people?!
Yes… it’s true, there will be no index when the 1940 US Census is released. Confidentiality requires that census records remain closed for 72 years – no, ifs ands or buts. That means that the kind folks at the National Archives and the Census Bureau don’t even get to see a single page until they are released promptly at 9:00am EDT. Since there’s no access there’s no index!
There will be ways for you to find your family, but it will require bit of investigation on your part if you don’t want to wait for the index to be completed (and let’s face it… we’re all just itching to look the second the census is released!). Steve Morse’s One Step Census Quiz is a great tool that you should check out to get prepared for searching without an every name index.
“But… tell me more about this index,” you say.
The index will be created by volunteers just like you and me. Indexing is simple and easy and can be done simply from your home computer in the comfort of your PJs! No need to drive to a library, stand in line or pay for expensive software. The software is free and available for both Mac and PC.
Uncle Sam wants YOU to become an Indexer!
The folks over at the 1940 US Census Community Project are making it not only easy to help index the 1940 US Census, but fun and inciting!! This week, they’re offering the chance for two lucky indexers to win a $50 Visa gift card and one super lucky indexer to win a $100 Visa gift card just for downloading the FamilySearch indexing software and indexing a batch of the *SIMULATION* 1940 U.S. Census! Wow!
OK, so how much time is that going to take? I just did two batches and it took me less than 10 minutes. And I’ll be honest… I’m no pro at indexing. I’ve only indexed 86 names total. But the software has guided instructions all along the way to make it easy for you to know exactly what to enter in each field, and they have a quality checker that will go over your work before you submit it and call attention to areas that might need a second look.
So here’s what you do to be entered into the gift card drawings:
- First, sign up on the Games and Prizes page to register (you’ll only have to do this step once, and there will be more prizes for indexers along the way!)
- Download the indexing software (you’ll also need to sign up for a FamilySearch account if you don’t already have one – don’t worry, it’s free!)
- Complete a 1940 U.S. Census simulation batch before 11:59pm MT March 30, 2012. (for all of you Eastcoaster reading this blog… this gives you EXTRA TIME!)
Just so you’re clear… to complete your practice batch of 1940 Census records follow these steps:
- launch the indexing application from your desktop and log in.
- Click “Download Batch” and look for *SIMULATION* 1940 U.S. Census.
- Complete the batch and click the submit button.
And that’s it. You’re well on your way to the chance for a free Visa gift card! You’ll have no obligation to continue to participate in the indexing project, but I know a lot of people who would appreciate it if you did. The more volunteer indexers that we have, the sooner the every name index will be completed. As an indexer you can offer as little or as much time as you like, there are no requirements for number of pages indexed or time per week!
Disclosure: As a the1940census.com blog ambassador program, this supports my eligibility to win an Amazon Kindle Fire. If you have a genealogy blog and you’re excited about the release of the 1940 US Census, join the blog ambassador program by signing up here.