Start Your 1940 Census Research
The National Archives will release the 1940 Census on April 2, 2012. It will be available for online searching free of charge at http://1940census.archives.gov. The 1940 Census will not have a name index when it opens on April 2, 2012. In order to locate someone, you will need to know his or her address and the Census enumeration district in which that address was located.
What can you do now in preparation for the opening of the 1940 Census?
- Make a list of all the people you want to look for in the 1940 census. Think broadly--ancestors, their siblings, cousins, etc.--anybody to whom you are related.
- Collect addresses for these 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)
- 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.)
Identify the enumeration district (ED) in which each address was located. There are currently several ways to do this:
Search the 1940 Census Maps for Enumeration District Numbers
Go to the National Archives Catalog: http://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/
Enter 1940 Census maps + the county + the state: 1940 Census maps Sussex Delaware
You can narrow the search by including a town name in the search: 1940 Census maps Sussex Milford 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."
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
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.
Save the enumeration district numbers for the opening of the 1940 Census on April 2, 2012. You will be able to search the digitized copies of the Census by ED number and then browse for your family members' Census entry.
Search the 1940 Census Enumeration District Descriptions
Go to the National Archives Catalog: at http://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/
Enter 1940 Census enumeration district descriptions + the county + the state: 1940 Census enumeration district descriptions Sussex Delaware
You can narrow the search by including a town name in the search: 1940 Census enumeration district descriptions Sussex Delaware
In the search results, click on the title of the description to see the full description.
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.