press release says:

“PROVO, UTAH (August 17, 2011)–, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that both the images and indexes to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made free to search, browse, and explore in the United States when this important collection commences streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.

When complete, more than 3.8 million original document images containing 130 million plus records will be available to search by more than 45 fields, including name, gender, race, street address, county and state. It will be’s most comprehensively indexed set of historical records to date. is committing to make the 1940 Census free from release through to the end of 2013, and by doing so hopes to help more people get started exploring their family history.  As this census will be the most recent to be made publicly available, it represents the best chance for those new to family history to make that all-important first discovery.

“The release of the 1940 U.S. Census will be an exciting event for any American interested in learning more about their family history,” said CEO Tim Sullivan. “By making this hugely important collection free to the public for an extended period, we hope to inspire a whole new generation of Americans to start researching their family history.” 

“ is working to make the 1940 Census a truly unique interactive search experience…as well as the starting point to help new users easily get started on the world’s leading online family history resource.  After finding that first family connection in the 1940 Census, we believe new users will be able to make amazing discoveries by searching our 7 billion digitized historical records, exploring the 26 million family trees created on Ancestry, and collaborating with our nearly 1.7 million subscribing members. We think that 2012 is going to be a great year of discovery for all family historians.””

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1 Comment on 1940 U.S. Census to be Free on

  1. Gabriel says:

    They stood up and were coetundThe first US Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and has been taken every decade since.A vast amount of old census data has been transcribed, making it possible for you to search for specific names in cities and states across the US. (Other countries also have kept census data.) When you locate a record you think might be a match, you can view a scan of the original ledger which usually offers even more information than has been transcribed.About American census recordsYou may think that this would make searching for an ancestor easy but it will and it won’t, all depending on the era you need to explore.Why the discrepancy? For privacy reasons, census data is not made publicly available for 72 years. This makes it obsolete for any searches for people here and now but it remains a valuable tool if you’re seeking information about ancestors prior to 1930.What you can findOn census data from 1790-1840, just the head of household is listed, along with the number of household members in certain age brackets.However, for the censuses from the years 1850 to 1930, there are details about each person in a household (family members, lodgers and others living there are all included). Information featured typically included the following:namesstreet addressgender/racetheir ages at the time of the censusmarital status & length of marriagetheir country (or state) of birththeir parents’a0country (or state) of birthyear of immigrationoccupation(s)value of their home, or monthly rentNote that census data will vary depending on year and location, and not all records have been digitized and/or transcribed.Where to get the informationThe National Archives has the census schedules on microfilm available from 1790 onward (though only a tiny portion of the 1890 census justa06,160 records out of the 62,979,766 people listed survived aa0Department of Commerce fire in 1921).But to make things easier, you can access the census data viaa0 although a membership fee may be required. ( also hosts some of these records, but they are only available only via public libraries.)

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