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The 1940 Census

March 30, 2012

April 2, 2012. The wait is over. If you are a genealogist, you have had this date circled for some time. For those of you wondering the importance of April 2, 2012 no, it is not a new day after April Fool?s holiday it is the release of the 1940 Census!

For privacy reasons, censuses are not available for public use for 72 years, so when one gets released, we all get a little excited. Census records can provide a wealth of information if you are researching a family, person, neighborhood or community.

One note when the 1940 census is first released there will not be a name index. So, if you are trying to find a specific person, you will need to know where they lived and their enumeration district. Several websites have tips for tracking down enumeration districts:
National Archives: or
Stephen Morse:

Over the next few weeks, several online databases and websites will be frantically indexing the census records so you will be able to search by a specific name. We have several of the databases available for free in our library, if you want to visit and explore the 1940 Census.

For more information on the 1940 Census, including tips and tricks for using it in your research, join us for our Learning the 1940 Census workshop on April 14. For more information or to register online, click here.


Suzanne Hahn is director of reference services for the IHS Collections and Library. She loves helping people find the information they seek and is perhaps the only librarian ever to get shushed for laughing too loud in a library.

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