The 1940s Census Experience

BY MARTI RASMUSSEN                  

         My Adventure Begins April 3-27

It's been a busy week for me. I was among the many family historians who tried to access the 1940 Census on Monday. I did finally get on later in the day for the State of Indiana. Only Indiana and few other states had been completely uploaded by that time.

At first, I checked for the right Enumeration Number for my husband's family, but I entered the 1930 ED number. After spending time paging through two Eds which were the wrong ones, I decided to give it up for the day.    

I consulted with my spouse since he knows the town. He realized at once that I had the wrong part of town. So check a map of the town or area where you think your search begins. You may be surprised.

Then when I finally found the right street and part of town, the Census form was unreadable. That's right, unreadable. On Ancestry.com, you can adjust for increased contrast, magnification etc. I did all that. I concluded that the enumerator is to blame –using pencil instead of a pen to record the names and data. That was a disappointment. Perhaps, the Ancestry staff will be able to digitalize it better and make this form readable.

Yesterday, I had a message that all of the 1940s census was available on Ancestry.com. So I tried again, but this time went to Missouri to a small town where a relative I didn't know much about lived. I was lucky. I found this person almost at once. A welcome change from my earlier experience. So I am able to complete my records for those persons.

I find that FamilySearch.org doesn't seem to have the parts of the 1940 Census that I need available. They are slower in getting it ready for use. Possibly it will work better than Ancestry.com. As for the National Archives website – <www.archives.gov.1940census> ,it seemed rather slow to appear on my laptop. And I am wondering if they are having trouble serving all of us that or raring to go find our ancestor.

Happy hunting to you all. I know I'm going to really enjoy learning more about my relatives and their 1940 lives.


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