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Find Out About Your History with the 1940 Census

The National Archives website for the 1940 census has been hit with more than 37 million visits since its launch on April 2.

Many Americans don't know much about their lineage while of host of others can trace family roots back to "old countries." No matter what boat in which someone may sit, National Archives has released some information that gives a snapshot into the post Great Depression ages.

About 132 million people were counted in the 1940 census, including 21 million still alive today, and that may include some of your relatives.

Many of these individuals survived the Great Depression and were part of the Greatest Generation, fighting or contributing to the effort during World War II and experiencing new technology, such as the television and microwave.

The census asked a host of new questions for the first time during that sample, to capture a better picture of families and family life.

Names, addresses, ages and even more personal information like marital status, how many children a family had, how much they earned and what they did for a living were kept under wraps for 72 years — as required by a confidentiality law.

The ban has expired and now people can get a capsule view of family life during that time. It was also the first time the census asked women if they had been married more than once, their age at their first marriage and the number of children born.

According to National Archives, the 1940 census is made up of 3.8 million images, scanned from more than 4,000 rolls of microfilm.

To search, follow these steps:

  1. Find census maps and descriptions to locate an enumeration district. To find a person in the census, you first need to determine the appropriate enumeration district number. This can be found by searching census district maps and descriptions.
  2. Browse census images to locate a person in the 1940 census.
    Census images are organized by enumeration district number. Once you've located the correct one, you can begin to browse census images to look for your ancestor.
  3. Save, share, and download images to save your work and share with family members.
    When you locate a census image, you can easily save, share, or download the image for future reference. This image can be a great keepsake, or addition to your family tree!
Candace Jarrett April 11, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I've looked to find information on my family. It's a really neat tool, especially if the elders in the family have passed on and can't share that type of information.

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