Need Something To Do? Help Index the 1940 US Census

Do you have some spare time this summer? Do you want to be involved with a worthwhile, interesting project? You can do this at your own pace, on your personal schedule, right from home!

I am talking about being a volunteer indexer for the 1940 US Census. You might have heard that the census was released in April after the legal wait of 72 years. But when it was first released, you could search the records only if you knew the address of the person. There was no name index. So the call went out for volunteers to compile a name index.

I gulped and figured I would give indexing a try. It is not hard at all!  The tutorials are plentiful and straightforward and there is additional help through email or phone. First you have to download some software and then you can choose the state you want to index. I have been doing Ohio since that is where most of my family lived. Each batch is only 40 names and it does not take long. That is if you stick to the simple task of indexing. But I get curious and look at the relationships, the occupations and even salaries. I imagine the person interviewed smiling in pride as he or she discusses the new baby or detailing where the family lived five years ago. And I wonder if the Great Depression played a role in the family’s lifestyle or marriage plans.

Go ahead and try it out! If you are not yet interested in genealogy, this might be the introduction you have been waiting for.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

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