Source: Steve Morse Releases the Unified 1940 Census ED Finder (external link)
The 1940 census, which was "as of 1 April 1940", will be released by the Census Bureau on April 2, 2012. Law protects the privacy of censuses for 72 years. It will take time to digitalize the images and then more time to index them. If you want to help with the indexing ahead of time, you can sign up here: 1940 Census FamilySearch.org (external link). It's possible, at this point, that if you are already signed up to index other projects you can't sign up for this but that may change.
It could take months to get an all-USA-name index, depending on how many people volunteer to help transcribe (and proof?) them. In the interim, the only way you'll be able to access the census will be by Enumeration District (ED). That means that researchers will have to determine the EDs for their locations. In Clinton County, the 1940 EDs (see below) are identical to the 1930 EDs (1930 Census
What can you do to prepare in advance?
- Start by digging through your genealogies. Find each family you are interested in locating. Make a list. If you have the family's information from the 1930 census, note that on your list - specifically, their enumeration district (ED) and address, if given.
- If you don't have their information in the 1930 census, look at their information and try to start making some educated guesses as to where they might be. For example, if your grandfather was born in January 1941 in Carlyle, it's likely the family was in or around Carlyle in 1940.
- Check out the 1940 Tutorial Quiz on how to use the ED finders at http://stevemorse.org/ (external link).
- Then, use the tools to find the likely EDs the family will be in, so you know where to pull from when the information becomes available in April. So far, Breese and Carlyle maps are under this tool: Unified 1940 Census ED Finder (external link) but there is also a large cities tool here: Obtaining EDs for the Census in One Step (Large Cities) (external link). The tutorial should help with figuring out which one to use for the best results!
- Be sensitive to the information of people who are still living.
Upon the 1940's release, FamilySearch (register or sign-in on upper right hand corner) and its partners will coordinate efforts to provide quick access to these digital images and immediately continue indexing these records to make them searchable online for free and open access. There could be a computer "overload" of inquiries during first few days that may slow your searching.
If anyone finds additional information about the 1940 census debut, let us know and we'll update this page so everyone can "get the word".