Saturday, March 24, 2012

1940 Census - Nine more days!

In just nine days, the 1940 Census will be here! I imagine that while we wait, many in the genea-world will be stockpiling the necessary food and beverages to sustain us while we dig in and begin to search for our family members. Many of us will be diligently seeking to knock down brick walls; others will just need to confirm information that has been suspected all along, or passed on by family lore. Whatever the goal each genealogist has, we're sure to have cleared our calendars for April 2nd, so the fun can begin!

As the BIG DAY grows nearer, I've begun to contemplate my approach to the 1940 documents. After all, the images that will be released on April 2nd are just that - images of the actual census documents. However, there will be no index available right away, so the only way to find our folks will be to flip page by page through the virtual documents for whole cities or counties, or if we know an address or neighborhood, to use one of the available resources to try to locate the enumeration districts, so that we can at least narrow our searches down by neighborhoods.

The tool I've decided to use (at least for now) is Steve Morse's ED Finder, which allows users to input an address, along with a cross street, to determine the probable enumeration district(s).  If you don't know the address, or if the people you are searching for in 1940 lived in a small town, Dr. Morse has several other tools on his site which may help you to narrow down your search for the correct enumeration district.  Click here to view the full site.  (Also credited are Drs. Joel D Weintraub and David R Kehs.) 

As I began to use Dr. Morse's tool to find enumeration districts for some of the people on my family tree, I realized that I wanted to have an organized system of recording the information, so that once the census is released, I could systematically move through the list of people I needed to find.  Therefore, I created a new form, which I'm calling my, "1940 Census Enumeration District Locator".  Anyone who would like to use this document is more than welcome. Here  is a direct link to the document, which you can download, or you can email me at, and I will gladly send it to you as an attachment.

Before I close, I must put a plug in for the effort to recruit more indexers for the 1940 Census.  This is truly a "more the merrier" situation, or a case of "Many hands make light work". :)  As a 1940 Blog Ambassador, I'd like to encourage anyone who is reading this to join the effort as an indexer. 132 million people were living in the United States in 1940, so it will take a LOT of people to make this project successful. Signing up to help is easy as pie!  Just go to and give your name and email address, and you're in!  You can even choose which state you'd most like to work on! So, come on and join in the fun.  Just nine more days, and we're in! :)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

1940 Census Blogger Ambassador

     In just 23 days, the 1940 Census will be released to the public!  Those of us in the genealogy community have counted down the years, then months, and now days for this event.  I can imagine we'll all get plenty of rest on the on the night of April 1st, so that we can be at the ready at 9:00 a.m. the next morning, when the long awaited documents are released. (Or, on the other hand, some might stay up all night in anticipation!)
     When FamilySearch first announced it's partnership with the National Archives to release the 1940 Census, and open it up to indexers, I signed up right away. I was already a registered indexer for FamilySearch at the time, but this was going to be a special project, which I just had to be a part of.  But now, I've made an even greater commitment to the work that will be involved in bringing easier access to the to the public because a few weeks ago, I signed up to be a 1940 Census "Blogger Ambassador". 
      Being a Blogger Ambassador means that I will write about my experiences using the 1940 Census, and I will share how the it effects my research.  That 's all that's required, and I would have been doing that, anyway, so I figured, "Why not be an ambassador?" :)
     There is so much excitement being generated about this census.  Personally, I'm impressed by the amount of information that the enumerators were required to gather.  Also, I think it's great that we'll get to see who actually provided the information (for the first time), which could help us to infer the probable validity of much of it.  We'll also get information about where families lived 5 years prior to the census date, educational levels obtained, and more!  You can click here to see detailed questions and enumerator instructions for the 1940 Census.

I look forward to sharing the journey of exploring this census with all of my readers.  If you haven't already, please consider signing up to help with the indexing. It as easy as visiting the official 1940 Census site and signing up by giving just your email address and your name.  You even get to pick the state(s) that you are most interesteing working on! The more hands "on deck", the sooner we'll have a fully searchable digital index to go with these precious documents!

A census-taker interviews a woman for the 1940 Census
(picture courtesy of

Friday, March 9, 2012

Genea-Family Friday - Meeting Shelley

Okay, maybe "Genea-Family Friday" isn't (or hasn't been) an actual meme, but for today, I'm making it one. :)

Although a small percentage of folks in our online genealogy community do get to meet and know each other personally, mostly by attending conferences and workshops, the majority are like me, who engage in building "friendships" online, through blogs, chats, and social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and/or GooglePlus.  So, for me, those rare occasions that allow me to actually meet one of my genea-friends are very special.  Yesterday was one such occasion, when I got to meet genealogist Shelley Murphy  while on a brief visit to my former hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shelley is very active in the African-American, as well as the larger genealogy community.  She puts out the Charlottesville Genealogy Examiner, is an active participant in the Afrigeneas community, and is belongs to more than one chapter of the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAGHS), holding the office of President in the Central Virginia Chapter.  Shelley is also active on Twitter, and Facebook, participates in Geneabloggers Radio shows, and is just generally supportive of other researchers, in every way. 

I have enjoyed getting to know Shelley online, and have long considered her a part of my "genea-family". Now, I can add her to the (short) list of folks from this wonderful community whom I've actually met, in person.  Though our visit was brief, I could tell that Shelley was just as kind, sweet, and supportive in "real life" as  she comes across online. :)  I'm glad we met!

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