Remember as a kid how Christmas never came soon enough? Waiting was torture, and talking about it did nothing to relieve the suffering. But you talked about it and thought about it and dreamed about it anyway because it was just so doggone exciting.
For genealogists, Christmas comes in April this year when the National Archives releases the images of the 1940 US Federal Census. And while pictures are nice, the real present won’t be unwrapped until the census is fully indexed and safely published online for everyone to freely access. Now that’s a gift worth waiting for!
But who’s waiting? We’re grown-ups now and while Uncle Sam says we have to endure until April, we can do better than just dream about what’s coming. We can get involved right now in activities that will ensure a speedy launch. It’s better to give than to receive anyway, right?
So the first thing you can do is get educated about what’s become known as the 1940 US Census Community Project. It’s called a community project because it comes with an open invitation to everyone with an interest in genealogy to get involved. Anyone who wants can join with leaders in the family history community in the super ambitious but very worthy effort to index the census before year’s end.
Read the announcement to learn how Archives.com, FamilySearch, and findmypast.com are combining resources to lead the effort. Subsequent endorsements from the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the Ohio Genealogical Society, and many other leading societies, archives, and libraries have given the project a powerful shot in the arm. When all’s said and done (and published for all to enjoy), community members who help will have participated in the largest known volunteer genealogical project in history.
Second, while the fun really begins April 2, the 1940 train is already pulling away from the station. Societies nationwide are signing up by the dozens and are starting to get their members organized and involved. Thousands of individuals visiting the1940census.com have indicated their interest in helping. Many have already signed up as indexers and are warming up on other indexing projects, such as the Iowa 1895 State Census, the 1871 UK Census, or the Kentucky WWI Draft Registration Cards. Now’s a great time for you to get on board as well.
Third, those of you who are experienced indexers can take this opportunity to learn how to arbitrate. With 132 million names to index, there’s going to be a ton of arbitration work that goes along with it. Remember, nothing gets published online until it gets keyed by two indexers and, in most cases, reviewed by an arbitrator. Right now the ratio of indexers to arbitrators is quite a bit out of balance, so any who are able and qualified should go to Becoming an Arbitrator to get trained and prepared.
Finally, get out there and let others know. Whether in your society, your indexing group, your LDS ward or stake, or your neighborhood, tell a friend who may be able to help. Of course, you can always do it electronically by “liking” the 1940 Census Community Project page on Facebook or by passing this e-mail message to others. However you do it, every effort to bring others into this national service project will help everyone else enjoy the benefits of the 1940 US Census sooner!