National Archives Launches 1940 Census April 2 Online at
Press Release · Monday, March 26, 2012

Live webcast of Opening Event, 8:30 A.M. EDT

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The launch event is open to the media and to a limited number of members of the public on a first come, first served basis, by emailing

WHAT:  Washington, DC…Special ceremonial launch of the 1940 census. The National Archives’ largest single release of digitized records will be online at For the genealogical community, the 1940 census is the most eagerly-anticipated records release in the past decade. Following remarks, the Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero will launch the first search.

Beginning April 2, 2012, users will be able to search, browse, and download the 1940 census schedules, free of charge, through the new 1940 census website: National Archives partnered with to build and host the site.

The launch event will be webcast live online starting at 8:30 A.M., please visit, closer to April 2 for the link.

WHO:  Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero
U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves Executive Vice President John Spottiswood
University of Maryland U.S. History Professor David Sicilia

WHEN:  Monday, April 2, 2012, 8:30 A.M.
Electronic media preset 8:15 A.M.

WHERE:  William G. McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
Enter through Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue and 7th Streets, NW

View the National Archives 3:13 minute video short on its YouTube channel ( and on The video provides a “behind-the-scenes” look at staff preparations and gives viewers tips on how to access the 1940 census data. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of it.

Background on the 1940 Census

When the Founding Fathers mandated a decennial census in the U.S. Constitution, the intent was to use this as a basis to determine how many representatives each state was entitled to send to the U.S. Congress. It is now a vital tool for Federal agencies in determining allocation of Federal funds and resources. The census is also a key research tool for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists. Many of the questions on the 1940 census are the standard ones: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. But the 1940 census also asks many new questions, some reflecting concerns of the Great Depression. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter a circled X after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, or National Youth Administration the week of March 24–30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. The 1940 census also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person's father and mother; the person's usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24–30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage.

For the release of the 1940 census online, the National Archives has digitized the entire census, creating more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps, and enumeration district descriptions.

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For press information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at: 202-357-5300, or by email:

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