Friday, March 23, 2012

1940 Census- Why Volunteer for Indexing?

It is just 10 days until the 1940 census is released. Genealogists everywhere are chomping at the bit. Really. I've seen all sorts of blog posts from bloggers who have figured out where their ancestors were living at that time, and have even gone so far as to figure out the enumeration district (ED) so they can get right to it. Why do they have to figure out the ED and not just type in their ancestors name? Well, although the 1940 census will be released on April 2nd, it will not be indexed.

What does indexing mean? It means that volunteers, like myself or hopefully you, go line by line through thousands of census pages typing out the names and other required information. Thus creating a searchable index by name, to find your ancestor. This of course will take time, months in fact. So if you are like me, whose ancestors couldn't seem to stay put, you will have to wait until some fabulous volunteer gets to the page with your family on it, indexes it, and it goes online. That is why you should volunteer. Each page you index means one less page for somebody else to do, and the quicker the information is available for all! How do you sign up? Simply go to the official 1940 U.S. Census Project page, follow the directions to download software, set up an account, and you are ready to index! It is very easy to do. This is also a great way to give back to your community at large, plus it will just give you a nice sense of warm fuzzies on the inside.


  1. Well, since you put it THAT way...

    Actually, if one has a good eye for reading many varieties of handwriting and a lot of "free" time, one has no excuse NOT to index.

    At one point, judging by the "Thank you for the correction" emails I was receiving from Ancestry, I must've held some sort of record for submitting corrections.

    Although I don't relish staring at page upon page of unindexed census pages, indexing would be an opportunity to ensure at least some pages are indexed correctly! ;D

    1. Then it sounds like you would make a great indexer!! Have fun!

  2. I started indexing this year. They give you small batches at a time. You can start and come back to it. It is easy and it is a great way to contribute. I also have learned a few things about census data doing indexing. I did a sample batch of 1940 so I am ready :)