Sunday, March 4, 2012

Countdown to the 1940 Census

When the 1940 census is released on April 2, 2012 there will be no surname index available.  With a little advance preparation, however, you will be able to find your ancestors. In order to find your ancestors before an index is available you will need to know the census enumeration district (ED).  That requires that you know the place where they were living in 1940. If you cannot find where your ancestor was living in 1940 you will need to wait until the indexes are completed late in 2012.

There are several websites that will be of help in determining the ED for your ancestor.  They are  the National Archives website:  and the Steve Morse census utilities: found using the Steve Morse utilities to be the easiest.  Following are examples of each of the types of procedures, large city, small city/rural and knowing the 1930 ED.

First example: My paternal grandparents lived at 6667 Bantry Avenue, Cincinnati, OH in 1940.  I used Steve Morse’s utility for large cities.

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When the census is released I will look for Ohio ED 91-228 and browse looking for Bantry Ave, house number 6667.

At the bottom of the screen at View Present . . . click on Google and then street view, and you will see the picture that Google has taken of that location.

This is the picture of my grandparent's house taken by Google in 2009.

Second example: My parents, older sister and I lived at East Franklin Av, Centerville, OH. I used Steve Morse’s utility “Finding ED Definitions for 1940 in One Step.”

Click to Enlarge

Click search then you will see.

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When the census is released I will look for Ohio ED- 63 and ED – 64  and browse looking for East Franklin Avenue, family of Elwood Burkholz. (I don't know if they lived in Centerville Village).

Third example: my maternal grandparents lived in ED 31-306 in 1930. I used Steve Morse’s Utility, “Converting between 1930 and 1940 Census EDS in One Step.”

Click to Enlarge
When the census is released I will look for Ohio ED 31–77 and 31-78 and browse for the Ulysses Cole family.

Doing your homework now will make it very easy to find your ancestor in the 1940 census without a surname index.

When the 1940 census is released free online this April 2 at 9 a.m. ET, you can view your ancestors’ records free at

According to the National Archives announcement, no other website will host the 1940 census data on its April 2 release date. Shortly after, though, you’ll also be able to view records free on

Submitted by Gail Burkholz

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Just to add to your post. First, we recommend that users of our One Step tools first use the tutorial quiz at:

    Also, we suggest you get a "second opinion" when you get an result. If you notice on your Cincinnati example, that the results when you get down to a single ED # shows a simple definition for the ED, and to the right of that a column marked T1224 (the NARA roll series) and underneath that "view". If you pressed "view" you would have seen each block in that ED, with the streets on each block in the order of north/east/south/west, and could find the exact block where the house was located. It's an important check on our data sets.

    Joel Weintraub
    Dana Point, CA


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