Some of you are right there with my grandfather. You remember the good ol’ days when you’d put on your best threads and stompers to go dancing. The days when gas cost $0.11 per gallon and a new car cost $850.
Grandpa learned from an early age the need for hard work and thrift as he struggled through the Great Depression and the loss of his mother at age 16. He got married just in time to leave his pregnant wife and 1-year-old son at home while he went to fight in the Pacific theater during WWII.
Grandpa and his contemporaries made significant sacrifices and still managed to enjoy life. They rightly earned themselves titles like “the greatest generation.”
This is the generation that the 1940 United States Federal Census captured in its snapshot of the nation. This census is the largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set available that records the names of those who were living in the United States at that time. Grandpa is listed somewhere within those records, and I can’t wait for his name to be indexed and published so I can quickly find him and his family and get a glimpse of his life in 1940.
Is there someone you are looking forward to finding on the census? Is it you?
On April 2, 2012, the National Archives (NARA) will provide access to the images of the 1940 U.S. Census for the first time. Upon its release, FamilySearch and many top genealogy organizations, archives, societies, and individuals will coordinate efforts to provide quick access to these digital images and immediately start indexing these records to make them searchable online for free and open access. Through this joint initiative, the index and images will always be available for free on FamilySearch.org.
How quickly these records get published depends on how many volunteers help. FamilySearch currently has a lot of great indexers like you, but we’re going to need tens of thousands more in order to get these records published sooner without sacrificing quality. If we all work together and get our friends and neighbors involved in indexing, we can all be searching these records in no time.
Think of this as a fun and historic national service project with room for everyone to get involved. You’ll be hearing a lot about the census in the press next year and through shared experiences as the project moves forward. I hope you’ll all take the chance to invite your friends and family to work on it together and be a part of history.
You might be thinking, “Why are you telling me about this now? The census won’t be available for over three months.” Here’s the thing. You and I know that indexing takes a little getting used to. If you want your friends to be ready to start indexing the census on April 2nd, I’d suggest they start indexing now. There are several projects currently available to help them get comfortable with the process:
U.K., England and Wales—1871 Census
U.S., New Jersey—1905 State Census
U.S., California—Great (Voting) Registers, 1866–1910
U.S., Georgia—WWII Draft Registration Cards, 1942
U.S., Texas—Deaths, 1978 (coming soon)
If they need any help getting started or if they have any questions about indexing, FamilySearch support is ready to help.
So spread the word about this exciting event starting just 110 days from now. And if you are already very comfortable as an indexer, consider becoming an arbitrator. These records cannot be published until they are both indexed and arbitrated. To learn more about arbitration, talk to your local group administrator, stake indexing director, or FamilySearch support.
Alright, I’m done flapping my lips. I know y’all are a bunch of eager beavers, and you won’t pass up the chance to be a part of the next great generation by helping to index a nation! Grateful researchers worldwide are counting on you!
To learn more about the 1940 U.S. Census, go to www.familysearch.org/1940census.
For more fun facts about the 1940s, go to http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1940s.html.
For more slang words and phrases from the 1940s, go to