The 1940 census has caused quite a stir in the genealogy and family history community. I’ve written about it several times with progress updates and I thought it has just about been covered by everyone.Wait up! there’s more.

The fact that 1940 census has had amazing coverage in national publications is truly impressive. The best article I’ve read up until now is the recent contribution from Reuters, which emphasizes emphasis the historical value and shares the point of view of one of the 100,000 online data entry volunteers. Yes, that’s 100,000. It’s a collaborative effort  to transcribe the census information into a searchable index between (recently purchased by NARA,, and ProQuest.

So what was happening in 1940? Actress Ginger Rogers won an Oscar, Al Pacino was a baby, James and Mary were the most popular baby names, the average annual salary was $1,299, and McDonald’s opened its first restaurant.

According to David Rencher of Family Search, nearly 42% of the entire index of 132 million people has been completed including 6 states that have been published already. And, here’s an amazing fact, “In a record-breaking day 34,947 volunteers busily transcribed the data. More than 3 million records were indexed in a 24-hour period.”

In 1940, apart from the usual questions pertaining to name, gender, age, relationships and head of household, people were asked for the first time where they were five years earlier—very helpful for family historians.  Sadly, many people who appeared in the census didn’t survive to appear in the 1950 census, not only from natural causes but because they died in World War II.

If you’d like to read the entire well-written and chatty article with all the comments, click on Reuters.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply