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Start Your 1940 Census Research

The National Archives released the 1940 Census on April 2, 2012. It is available for online searching free of charge at http://1940census.archives.gov or Population Schedules for the 1940 Census. In order to locate someone, it may be helpful to know his or her address and the Census enumeration district in which that address was located.

First, collect names and addresses of people for whom you plan to search.


Sources for addresses include:

 

  • City Directories (NARA has original Circa 1940 City Directories for Washington, DC. The Library of Congress holds a large nationwide collection of city directories and many libraries hold local directories.)
     
  • The 1930 Census (useful for people who did not move between 1930 and 1940). If you have a person's enumeration district (ED) number from the 1930 Census you can use "The Converting between 1930 and 1940 Census ED1940s in One Step" search utility at http://stevemorse.org/census/ed2040.php?year=1940 to find the equivalent ED for the 1940 Census.
     
  • World War II Draft Records (contact the National Archives' Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived)
     
  • Naturalization Petitions or Declarations of Intent filed close to 1940 (contact the National Archives' Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived)
     

Second, identify the Enumeration District (ED) in which each address was located.

There are three ways to do this:

(1) Search the 1940 Census Maps for Enumeration District Numbers

Go to the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&f.ancestorNaIds=821491&sort=naIdSort%20asc

Type in the search box the following: 1940 + the county + the state and then hit enter or click on the magnifying glass; for example: 1940 Sussex Delaware

You can narrow the search by including a town name in the search; for example: 1940 Milford Sussex Delaware

Note: Not all towns will have individual maps. You may need to look at county maps for some towns.

The search will bring back any matching results. The first three results will be listed, to see additional results click "View all Online Holdings."

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Click the particular result you wish to see to view the larger version of the map.

1940 Census Enumeration District Maps-Delaware-Sussex County-ED 3-1 - ED 3-57
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You may use the zoom and pan features to enlarge the map and move the image on the screen.

If you have the address of an ancestor from 1940, find the address on the map and then look for the enumeration district number for that address. The map may have many other numbers on it. The ED number may be a two part number separated by a hyphen (in the red box below). The first number represents the county number and the second number the number of the enumeration district within that county.

enumeration-district-m.jpg

 

(2) Search the 1940 Census Enumeration District Descriptions

Go to the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&f.ancestorNaIds=821491&sort=naIdSort%20asc

Type in the search box the following: 1940 + the county + the state and then hit enter or click on the magnifying glass; for example: 1940 Sussex Delaware

You can narrow the search by including a town name in the search; for example: 1940 Milford Sussex Delaware

In the search results, click on the title of the description to see the full description.

 

(3) Use the Search Utilities at http://stevemorse.org/census/.

These utilities are useful tools to search for 1940 EDs from addresses or locations as well as to convert a 1930 Census ED to a 1940 Census ED.

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