Genealogy Just Got More Exciting! The 1940 Census is Here

It’s not every day that a new record group becomes available that will help you learn more about your family history. But yesterday, April 2, 2012 was one of those special days! Who will you be looking for?  Do you plan on volunteering to help with indexing?

National Archives Releases 1940 Census

Washington, D.C. . . Ever wondered where your family lived before WWII;  whether they owned their home; if they ever attended high school or college; if they were born in the United States, and if not, where?  Unlocking family mysteries and filling in the blanks about family lore became much easier today with the release of the 1940 census by the National Archives and Records Administration.  By law the information on individuals in the decennial censuses, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is locked away for 72 years.

1940 census archives.com

In a 9 A.M. ceremony in the William G. McGowan Theater, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero declared the 1940 census officially open. This is the 16th decennial census, marking the 150th anniversary of the census.  Performing the first search, Mr. Ferriero said, “It is very exciting for families across America to have access to this wealth of material about the 1930s.  Many of us will be discovering relatives and older family members that we didn’t know we had, picking up threads of information that we thought were lost, and opening a window into the past that until now has been obscured We now have access to a street-level view of a country in the grips of a depression and on the brink of global war.”

Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau added: “Releasing census records is an odd event for us; we spend all our lives keeping the data we collect confidential. However, once every 10 years, we work with the National Archives and Records Administration to release 72-year old census records that illuminate our past. We know how valuable these records are to genealogists and think of their release as another way to serve the American public.”

For the first time, the National Archives is releasing an official decennial census online. The 3.9 million images constitute the largest collection of digital information ever released by the National Archives.  The free official website http://1940census.archives.gov/, hosted by Archives.com, includes a database of Americans living within the existing 48 states and 6 territories on April 2, 1940.

“There is a great synergy between the National Archives and Archives.com stemming from our passion to bring history online,” said John Spottiswood, Vice President, Business Development, Archives.com.  He continued, “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with the National Archives to bring the 1940 census to millions of people, the most anticipated record collection in a decade. In a short period, we’ve built a robust website that allows people to browse, share, print, and download census images. We encourage all to visit 1940census.archives.gov to get started on their family history!”

The census database released today includes an index searchable at the enumeration district level.  An enumeration district is an area that a census taker could cover in two weeks in an urban area and one month in a rural area.

To make the search for information easier, the National Archives has joined a consortium of groups to create a name-based index.  Leading this effort, FamilySearch is recruiting as many as 300,000 volunteers to enter names into a central database.

Questions asked in the 1940 census, which reflect the dislocation of the Great Depression of the 1930s, will yield important information not only for family historians and genealogists, but also for demographers and social and economic historians.  We learn not only if a family owned or rented their home, but the value of their home or their monthly rent.  We can find lists of persons living in the home at the time of the census, their names, ages and relationship to the head of household.  For the first time the census asked where a family was living five years earlier: on April 1, 1935.  This information might offer clues to migration patterns caused by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  For the first time in the census, a question relating to wages and salary was asked. Persons 14 years old and over were asked questions regarding their employment status:  Were they working for pay or profit in private or nonemergency government work during the week of March 24–March 30, 1940?  Were they seeking work? How many hours did they work during the last week of March? How many weeks did they work in 1939?  What was their occupation and in what industry?

New Online International Records Online

Here are the latest genealogy records newly online from Findmypast. You’ll find a large selection from Scotland, and others from around the world. 

international genealogy records

Scotland, Published Family Histories
Is your family from Scotland? Discover more about your Scottish families’ name and history from this collection of publications. There are over 400 publications in this collection of Scottish family histories.

The publications mostly date from the 19th and early 20th centuries, they include memoirs, genealogies, and clan histories. There are also publications that have been produced by emigrant families.

Scotland, Newspaper Birth Notices
Over 121,000 new records have been added to our collection of Scottish newspaper birth notices. These new additions have been transcribed from our existing collection of Scottish newspapers.

Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original newspaper announcement. The amount of information listed varies, but most records will list a combination of your ancestor’s birth date, birth place and parents’ names.

Scotland, Newspaper Marriage & Anniversary Notices
A further 201,000 new records have also been added to our notices of marriages and anniversaries.

Also taken from our existing collection of historical newspapers, the records will include a combination of your ancestor’s marriage date, marriage place, spouse’s name and parents’ names. Images of the original notices may reveal additional details.

Scotland, Newspaper Death Reports & Obituaries
Over 500,000 additional records are now available to search. This collection of newspaper death reports and obituaries may reveal interesting or undiscovered stories surrounding your ancestors’ life and death.

Transcripts will reveal your ancestor’s death date, age at death, parents’ names and the name of their spouse.

Scotland, Glasgow & Lanarkshire Death & Burial Index
Over 37,000 records have been added to the Glasgow & Lanarkshire Death & Burial Index. These new additions cover Bent Cemetery in Hamilton and consist of transcripts of original documents that will reveal a combination of your ancestors’ birth year, death and burial dates, age at death, burial place and mortcloth price.

Scotland, Court & Criminal Database
Over 28,000 records from the Fife Kalendar of Convicts have been added to our collection of Scottish crime records.

The result of a 20 year project by Andrew Campbell of the Fife Family History Society, the Kalendar is an indexing to many of the courts in Fife as well as the High Court between 1708 and 1909. It includes information taken from a variety of sources ranging from court, prison and transportation records to births, marriages, deaths and newspaper reports.

Each result will include a transcript of the original document. The amount of information listed in each transcript will vary, but most will reveal a combination of the accused’s name, birth year, birth place, address and occupation, the nature of their offence, the date and location of their trail as well as the sentence they received.

Some records will also include trial notes, verdict comments, details of previous convictions and additional comments.

The Scotland, Court & Criminal Database now contains over 160,000 including Crown Office Precognitions and High Court Trial Papers. Crown Office Precognitions are factual statements that have been given by witnesses to both the prosecution and defence before the case goes to trial. Precognitions differ from a witness statement, a witness statement is an account of what the witness has said or seen were as a precognition is an account of the witness’s evidence.

Church of Scotland Ministers 1560-1949
Explore PDF images of the “The Succession of Ministers on the Church of Scotland from the Reformation”. Compiled by Hew Scott, D.D., The work was revised and continued up to 1949 under the Superintendence of a Committee appointed by the General Assembly.

As quoted in the book, “the design of the present work is to present a comprehensive account of the Succession of Ministers of the Church of Scotland since the period of the Reformation. An attempt is made to give some additional interest by furnishing incidental notices of their lives, writings and families, which may prove useful to the Biographer, the Genealogist, and the Historian.”

Isle of Man Roll Of Honour WW1
Find your Isle of Man ancestors who fell in the Great War. The Isle Of Man Roll Of Honour recorded the names of more than 1,900 men who died during the First World War or died as a result of wounds, injury or disease contracted on active service. These transcripts will reveal your ancestor’s rank, regiment, parish and biography.

Originally published in 1934 by the War Pensions Committee, the publication was funded entirely by Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby.

In 1936, the War Pensions Committee donated copies to each parish church throughout the island.

The foreword, provided by Lord Stanley, reads ‘It is well that the deeds of those who died in the Great War should find a permanent memorial in such a list. Whilst this generation lives their names will not be forgotten, but other generations will arise to whom they will not be personally known. This Roll will serve to keep their memory green and future Manxmen and Manxwomen, when reading it, will realise that in our great struggle the Isle of Man played a noble part’.

International Records Update – Czech Republic
Two new Indexes, Czech Republic Births & Baptisms 1637-1889 and Czech Republic Marriages 1654-1889 are now available to search. These transcripts will provide you with vital dates and locations as well as the names of parents and spouses. Hints will also be generated from these records against any matching names stored in your Findmypast family tree.

International Records Update – Belgium
Celebrate Belgian Independence Day this coming Sunday by discovering your Belgian roots. Explore two indexes, Belgium Marriages 1563-1890 and Belgium Deaths & Burials 1564-1900, containing more than 212,000 records.

These records will enable you to determine when your ancestors died, where they were laid to rest, when they married and the name of their spouse.

International records update – Finland
Search for your Finnish ancestors in three indexes of more than six million baptisms, marriages and burials between 1657 and 1909. These transcripts will also generate hints against any names stored in your Findmypast Family Tree.

Pinpoint your ancestor’s final resting place with new additions to our Billion Graves Cemetery Indexes. Our latest update includes:

Cemetery records are of great importance in discovering where and when your ancestor died. They can also provide you with information regarding their birth and marriage dates.

With an abundance of cemeteries, it can be overwhelming trying to pinpoint the precise cemetery in which your ancestor was laid to rest, and visiting each potential location is costly. However, in partnering with BillionGraves, we aim to make available all the cemetery records held on their site for free, saving you time and money as you search for your ancestor. BillionGraves is the largest resource for GPS-tagged headstone and burial records on the web, with over 12 million headstone records.

International Records Update – Netherlands
Unearth your Dutch roots with three indexes to more than three million births & baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials that took place in the Netherlands between 1564 and 1945.

These transcripts were sourced from the International Genealogical Index and will generate hints against your Findmypast family tree.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Findmypast Library Edition: Request it At Your Public Library!

findmypast library editionfindmypast now has a Library Edition available within the United States. Patrons of subscribing libraries can now have access to their billions of records from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Highlights of what you’ll find on findmypast Library Edition include:

  • Largest online collection of U.K. parish records;
  • Exclusive access to the new PERiodical Source Index (now with images);
  • Most comprehensive Irish family history records in the world.

Findmypast’s version of PERSI, the Periodical Source Index, includes more than 2.5 million indexed entries from thousands of genealogical and local history publications–AND a growing number of digitized articles! Click here to read more about PERSI, which we love.

Here’s How You Can Use FindMyPast for Free
We asked Josh Taylor at FMP how subscribers and non-subscribers can use the Library Edition:

1) “FMP subscribers can login to their own accounts while at the library.”

2) “Also, library users who are not paid subscribers can create a free account that allows them to create a tree, store, and attach records they view while at the library. The free account works like a standard Findmypast account so can be used at home to access their tree (and even get automatic hints).”

We’ve blogged about the Hints feature here at Genealogy Gems.

stick_figure_ride_mouse_400_wht_9283Ready to do some library research? We’ve got more tips for you, like:

Finally, here’s an important tip: let your voice be heard at your public library! They need to know how many people care about genealogy and family history. They need to know what databases you’re most interested in accessing. In an era of struggle for many public libraries, they have to prioritize their energies, so tell them what you want to learn!

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