1940 U.S. Census Is Coming! Don't Flip Your Wig. FamilySearch Is Cooking with Gas.

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

Comments (78)

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  1. We have indexed and arbitrated for many years. We are so excited about the 1940 US Census.

    M Nielsen/BJensen 12 February 2012
    9:10 pm
  2. I looking forward to seeing my husband (1939)and brothers (1936)name on the census - I do indexing and research at Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Latham, New York

    M Ozimek Marra 11 February 2012
    10:35 am
  3. Why am I looking forward to the 1940 Census? Because I am in it and am looking forward to seeing information about myself and my siblings, Dad and Mom, and many cousins.Do does really eat oats?

    Harry P. McLaughlin 07 February 2012
    9:50 am
  4. Thank you so much for the opportunity to index and arbitrate. I have not been to good at getting records for the Temple so I feel that I can at least do this. Also, working in the office at the Temple I can see how important it is to get your names correct when you are indexing. It is great work.

    Carole Taylor 06 February 2012
    3:08 pm
  5. ChasH, Project guidelines for the 1940 US Census are not yet available. We don't expect they will be until the project itself is ready. But they will be quite simple so you will need no more than an hour at most to go over them and learn what you need to do. If you have indexed before, this will be very much like past census indexing projects. If you have not done indexing before, it would be good to starting learning the ins and outs of indexing with projects that are currently listed on the website. That way, you will ready to go when the 1940 census becomes availabe.

    AndersonSF 06 February 2012
    11:15 am
  6. Are the Project Guidelines posted anywhere. It would be good to be able to start studying them early. A example page would be good also.

    ChasH 06 February 2012
    10:14 am
  7. What about flipping my wig, and your cooking with gas?

    Suz 05 February 2012
    9:03 pm
  8. I have many old documents, obituaries, etc I think should be preserved for future generations of my family & others of interest. Ive checked out donating to libraries & etc I came to the conclusion familysearch would be the very best. However once I registered to index I cannot see where there is a place to post old documents with names, dates & etc from say 1850? Im in the process of going through a trunk of the former items that sat in one house way over 100 yrs., Im scanning & posting into my data the information, now would be the time while everything is handy & fresh in my mind to post these things. Is this possible? Please give me a clue, after I registered to index a link came up to watch a video, I clicked on it and nothing transpired. I do have a Mac however I worked many years as a graphics person & have sent images & etc all over the US & Canada therefore I thought this would be simple for me, anyone have any suggestions? Thanks for your time.

    D Biegler 04 February 2012
    9:06 pm
  9. I love indexing. FamilySearch has done a lot to help me with my research. What a wonderful way to give back. I look forward to helping index the 1940 census. I cant wait

    Joan Raney 04 February 2012
    4:49 am
  10. I just wish more members sign up indexing I think that if you are unable to get to the Temple to do work for the death then you should spend time to index. it shows your faith within yourself to your heavenly father. I enjoy so much indexing and arbitration and feel how many are waiting in haven to have there work done on earth.

    Angelika Petty 03 February 2012
    3:56 pm
  11. I thiunk that indexing is good but I also tghink people should work on Family History and get ready for more temple work.

    Bob 02 February 2012
    5:56 pm
  12. Glad to read this blog Keep it going

    Best Elliptical 30 January 2012
    10:54 pm
  13. I enjoyed doing the 1930 census. I learned a lot about the emigrants and the sacrifices that they made to come to this country. It was amazing to me how much closer to them I felt after doing those records. I loved it and Im looking forward to the 1940 census.

    Steven Burns 30 January 2012
    7:28 am
  14. Family Search Indexing is a wonderful program. We work in the Logan Family History Center and have been ask to index 38,000 names for the month of January 2012. The staff members have completed 58,000 names. This is twice what we were ask to due by all of the staff members. This is very enjoyable work.

    Norman Barber 28 January 2012
    4:54 pm
  15. I can hardly wait for April 2nd for the 1940 US census. I think I can index at least 100,000 in a year. It is going to be so so fun.

    Irma Kump 24 January 2012
    5:59 pm
  16. I am doing research on my grandmothers family on my mothers side. I have some information but not enough. Looking for help.

    Ella Lewis-Stokes 24 January 2012
    2:15 pm
  17. I plan to give up my time doing family history research and devote my time to indexing the 1940 Census. I cant wait for the opportunities to engage with this historical document.

    Cameron Lyon 21 January 2012
    6:43 pm

    YVONNE HAMILTON 21 January 2012
    3:17 pm
  19. Will we be able to select the State in which our ancesers were located. In one of the notes I see where someone voluterred to to a certain State? Can you index our own State even though it is not listed as the current projects?

    Orson Ball 20 January 2012
    11:05 am

    ANNETTEJACOB 17 January 2012
    11:23 am
  21. Indexing is a great way to feel like I am anxiously engaged in good works, not only serving those on this side of the veil, but also those on the other side.

    Gene Monson 16 January 2012
    3:20 pm
  22. I am getting so much pleasure out of the indexing. I have been using LDS records for over 30 years for my own family history and feel every name I index is helping the next person and paying back for all the workers did so that I could find over 15 generations of one of my lines and many generations of all of the others. Without these workers I would never have found my family history as there were no computer searches when I started.

    Carolyn Rudolph 16 January 2012
    11:18 am
  23. I am excited for the 1940 U.S. Census that is Coming

    justin 15 January 2012
    2:14 pm
  24. I am so excited about indexing the 1940 US Census. I can hardly wait. While I am waiting I plan to recruit as many others to help as I can. I am looking forward to this great work. Lets all get as many others to help out as we can. Our efforts will bless us all.

    Irene Groneman 14 January 2012
    10:59 pm
  25. It seems like I have been waiting since the 1930 census was published. My sisters and brother were in that one and now I will be there. I will thoroughly enjoy indexing the 1940 census.

    14 January 2012
    7:05 pm
  26. I am so excited about the release of the 1940 Census I signed up to index Louisiana. It is my pleasure to assist indexing for familysearch.org. You have helped me research my family tree and still are. I feel like I am giving back to you for helping me. I have hurt my arm and wrist so I had to stop indexing for awhile. I am trying to get back slowly since the healing process is so slow. Thank you.

    Diane Sewell 14 January 2012
    4:16 pm
  27. such an exciting time i am so grateful to be able to experience this timeline in my life now

    carolyn smith 13 January 2012
    7:49 am
  28. The index AND images of the 1940 U.S. Census will be free on FamilySearch.org. You can read this info on www.familysearch.org/1940census.

    The main promise of FamilySearch indexing is that the indexes created by volunteers will be available for free. They don't charge researchers to make use of our efforts. The images that we see while we're doing our indexing are not always owned by FamilySearch; they might be owned by other companies or organizations, and through agreements with FamilySearch we get the chance to index the records and have access to those indexes. FamilySearch understands that the original documents are extremely important pieces in the research process and so they make the images available as often as possible.

    Katie 12 January 2012
    3:34 pm
  29. So, why CANT we view the document images? It would be so helpful.

    Dianna Babcock 12 January 2012
    11:43 am
  30. I am so excited and looking forward to indexing the 1940 Census for Puerto Rico. I have been indexing, but lattely have backed off. Hope to get started again and find many of my relatives.

    Iris Hannah 11 January 2012
    10:39 pm
  31. I am looking forward to seeing the 1940 census also. I will be able to see my neighbors and my husband will be on there (1939) and my sister. I love the indexing program, when I cant sleep at night I get up and index. I have found things on familysearch that Ancestry has missed or made mistakes on. But I would like to see the images of the census records also.

    Wanda Castoe 11 January 2012
    12:21 pm
  32. I am having a horrible time just waiting. I am an arbitator at this time, and just finishing a Family History Mission. I would like the Bishop to announce it in our ward to recruit more indexers and arbitrators in our ward. I may send invitations to those who use Facebook frequently to help us. I plan to talk about it in testimony meeting. Upward and onward

    Kitty Burgess 11 January 2012
    7:55 am
  33. i agree if we help do the cenus and work we should view it free we put our time in helping to upload and dont ask for anything for our time but a look at our family history

    annie 10 January 2012
    5:16 pm
  34. I too am excited, BUT I do not want to extract for Ancestry or any other outfit that charges for my work. I have extracted other things that now appear on familysearch.org but when I try to actually see the census, no can do. There is an advantage to be able to see others on a page of census. We should have an answer to that B/4 we begin.

    Bob Erickson 10 January 2012
    3:08 pm
  35. This will be wonderful to see the names of this great generation.

    Randie B Haws 10 January 2012
    1:16 pm
  36. I am looking forward to indexing the 1940 census records. Hope to find a name I can relate to.

    Connie Paxman 10 January 2012
    12:49 pm
  37. I am an argentinian indexer and I love this work.For my is plesaure to work in projects who can help people to find their relatives,althoug I cannot find my ancestors yet,but I am still working.

    lily from Argentina 10 January 2012
    11:18 am
  38. I enjoy indexing so much hoping to help someone do their family history as I have done and am still doing. It makes me feel so needed

    Rose Allen 10 January 2012
    9:19 am
  39. It is so exciting to be able to Index the 1940 US Census. I cant hardly wait Looking forward to updates and training Trying to get more indexers onboard

    Jane E Stewart 10 January 2012
    8:39 am
  40. I have been indexing for a few years now. I enjoy doing this to help people because the indexers who came before me helped me find my family members so I wish to pass it on. I am ready to start the 1940s census.

    Cynthia Kaley 10 January 2012
    6:25 am
  41. @Anice Jengo... I agree. There is no valid reason why we should have to have a paid subscription to Ancestry or Fold3.com to view census images from our home computers. All census images that have been indexed by FamilySearch SHOULD be available online at FamilySearch without having to pay at Fold3 or Ancestry and . without having to go to a Family History Center to view them for free via Fold3 or Ancestry. All of the census images could and should be available on FamilySearch. I dont understand the thinking that caused FamilySearch to say, Hey.. lets make researchers using our Index, have to pay Fold3 or Ancestry to view the 1860, 1880, and 1930 Census.

    Elmer 10 January 2012
    12:29 am
  42. This is a wonderful priviledge being involved in this inspired program, Family History Indexing. I havent been involved with Indexing long, but I have enjoyed every minute Ive used in this program. Now, I feel Im addicted to it...I almost find myself sitting at the computer all day everyday...Im not a Computerman but Im a quick Learner, thats why I love the challenges that Indexing and the Computer brings to my Life. Love you ALL my fellow Indexers. Happy New Year and Happy Indexing... By the way Im a Volunteer from Down Under(Australia).

    Taualii Ene Vaivai 09 January 2012
    9:24 pm
  43. Lots of good questions--I wish I could answer them all, but,no, Family History indexers do not get paid. Family Search indexing records are free to the public. If you have a hard time accessing them, ask your Ward Indexing specialist to help you. I am a complete computer dummie, but have indexed almost 100,000 names, and all I can tell you is that you will be so blessed for doing this work-- I sure have I am trying to recrute as many new people as I can for the 1940 census. I can hardly wait for it to come out, even though I have enjoyed doing the England Wales census. Judy D. Ward Indexer

    Judy Deschenes 09 January 2012
    4:30 pm
  44. Alex, i just started indexing last week. Ialready had an LDS.org account because i am LDS and hold a position of leadership. signing up was very easy for me, i sujest you go to lds.org create an account and go from there. If you are not LDS contact your nearest chapel, you can find that at lds.org. Ihave really enjoyed what ive been doing so far. Everything is really facinating to me. Idont understand alot of words and lettering yet. But a simple phone call to my stake director has helped me everytime. Each day gets a little bit easier. Iam disabled and this has been the best thing for me since i lost the ability to work. Ilove doing this.

    david 09 January 2012
    12:36 pm
  45. Im rready, so include me in.

    Donna Ross 05 January 2012
    8:14 pm
  46. I have done indexing for several years, but when the census records were not available, I kind of stopped indexing because I could not find help learning the other records. I did a few, but did not feel that I was doing them right, so stopped. I would so like to get started again and want to sign up for the new census records and am anxious to get this information as soon as possible.

    Trudeane Taylor 05 January 2012
    2:50 am
  47. I dont agree that one generation is greater than another.

    Randy 04 January 2012
    11:55 am
  48. I am not an LDS member, but I have been indexing for several years. I appreciate all you do to help people research their family history. Often I find tidbits of information that pique my curiousity and lead me to search a little further. For example, while working on Jamaican death records my curiousity led me to looking up the definition of a Jamaican higgler and to finding out why so many people in the early 20th century died of pellegra - I vaguely knew that pellegra is a skin disease. I learned that it is caused by a deficiency of niacin and in that time and place very poor people ate mostly corn. If corn is planted without the use of lime or alkalai it comes up deficient in vitamin B3 (niacin). I am looking forward to the 1940 Census.

    Joan Richards 04 January 2012
    5:23 am
  49. Think Girls Camp--our stake love doing service. We taught them at camp how to do indexing and now we are ready to accept this challenge of indexing the 1940 US Federal Census. Yahooooooo. Citrus Heights girls rock

    Verna Hazelbaker 03 January 2012
    12:37 pm
  50. Yes,I will try and sign up for indexing now...I have a Mac so hope that works.

    Joan Damson 02 January 2012
    1:44 pm
  51. I was in High school at this time. All the boys a year or two older were in the service and I wrote many letters to keep in touch. I loved this time, because I had so many friends that I was corresponding with. I am excited that we will get a chance to work on the 1940 census. I have been an arbitrator almost from the start of the program, and have indexed over 100,000 records as well as arbirtated over 400,000. I love the work.

    Irene Tisdale 01 January 2012
    3:47 pm
  52. I hope to find any missing links in my line thru the 1940 census,a lot of my history is in Ia. & Il.Thanks to all who help in getting the information up so we can look into it.Happy New Year to all.

    Ray & Caryl Elgin 01 January 2012
    12:19 pm
  53. Carla judy,please tell me how to access the census records in family search.You said to click on sign in.Do I sign in on the family search website? It is not working for me.Please advise.

    Matt Rugel 01 January 2012
    11:27 am
  54. Im anxious to index/arbitrate 1940 census, since that census should reflect me, i.e., if my family came out from under their rock for a head count There are many whom Ive not been able to identify in 1930, hopefully they surfaced by the next decade.

    Patricia Robinson 31 December 2011
    10:18 pm
  55. I dont think I am old enough to know except by word of the family. I wasnt there in the depression. I am in the forever, regression, progression life. My children will pay in taxes in the near future. What will america do then? 1940 after 1930. I am a family history consultant for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Kathleen 31 December 2011
    5:02 pm
  56. This is so exciting. My husband and I are waiting for our mission call so my time to work will be limited. I plan to help all I can while we are serving. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Norma Boulware Hoopes 31 December 2011
    4:49 pm
  57. Maybe I can find some of those more recent relatives who lived past 1930...but Im not in the 1940, just my brother.

    Kaye 31 December 2011
    3:58 pm
  58. I am an indexer/arbitrator in Wisconsin. I have been meaning to call Salt Lake and ask when the 1940 Census will be released. There is so much prep work that must be done, will it actually be ready to go on Apr 2nd? Or will it take a while to format the fields and write the helps, etc? Please keep all of us updated as it gets close to the time. Everytime I download a batch I scan all records available to see if there are any 1940s ready, even though I know Ive got 4 months to wait - but boy am I itching to get started

    Charlotte Ingeborg Olsen 31 December 2011
    2:41 pm
  59. Very exciting to hear that the 1940 census will soon be available. It is fun to do the indexing, even though some of the writing is hard to read. The Lord will help you know what to put. If it doesnt come you can aklways find help. Love the work.

    Csrol Ward 31 December 2011
    1:05 pm
  60. Im looking forward to the 1940 census to look at the records of which I am a part of.

    M. B. Spaulding 31 December 2011
    12:04 pm
  61. I am responding to Anece Jengos comment about being unable to access ancestry.com. If you will click on sign in instead of clicking on ancestry.com, you will be asked for your user name and password. Enter the username and password that you use for familysearch and you will go directly to the census record that you need. It took me a while to figure it out but it works every time.

    Carla Judy 31 December 2011
    12:03 pm
  62. This is great news about the 1940 Census-- cant wait Ill get back to indexing again & get tuned up. I dont seem to have a problem on my Mac. I hope a lot of people get behind this project. Thanks Family Search.

    Harley Major 31 December 2011
    12:01 pm
  63. A quien corresponda Yo deseo que nos apoyen a todos los árbitros e indexadores de la mejor manera. una de ellas es recibir nuestros lotes indexados al 100 % y también arbitrados pues ultimamente en mi caso, me han dejado mis lotes arbitrados e indexados al 100% hasta que caducan y ya no cuentan para mi record, ¿ Seré yo la que estoy mal? o es el sistema que está fallando y eso me hace sentir fristrada. Estoy a sus órdenes.

    Gloria Guevara Solano 31 December 2011
    11:35 am
  64. I loved indexing the census records before and hope to do more of that again. Im having trouble doing other records so have kinda backed off. Maybe I should take some lessons Kathern Marks --kjoem@aol.com

    31 December 2011
    11:32 am
  65. Hot diggity dirt Yippee Lets go Oh yeah Cool Far out Neat Tough (and for the younger generation) Sick

    ChristySatfield 31 December 2011
    11:21 am
  66. This is most excellent. I didnt think we would have these records for several more years. Wasnt just a few years ago when the 1930 census was released. So now is the time for all of your friends, relatives and neighbors to start learning to index.

    Joe Broderick 31 December 2011
    10:31 am
  67. I remember heading to the City Library on the 2nd of Jan... hey... 1940 Census should be there Nope... and now it is almost 2012...still no 1940. Well,,, THIS IS GREAT NEWS I need the 1940 Census and will continue to index and arbitrate as much as I can to help with this great work.

    Rox Mtz 31 December 2011
    9:27 am
  68. Alex, Go to this website https//indexing.familysearch.org and click on the Get Started link. You will need your LDS church membership number to create an account. If you already have an LDS account (one that you use for FamilySearch, NewFamilySearch, etc, you can log in using that username and password) I hope this helps. Happy Indexing

    Myrna Boam 31 December 2011
    9:21 am
  69. I am looking forward to this project. Im not ashamed to admit it, but I do have more interest in indexing in areas of the country/world where I know my ancestors/relatives have lived and the 1940 US Census will fulfill that selfish pleasure - but at the same time help countless others. In that same vein, any idea when you will get additional counties prepared for the Illinois marriage records project - I need McLean and Tazewell Counties plus a few others? Any chance of getting Dearborn County, IN, or Philadelphia, PA or New York state records going in some new projects? The repository of historical Presbyterian church records housed in Philadelphia is also crying out for indexing. Also I find I am needing more access to Nebraska and Wyoming records. Understanding it does take time to negotiate access and prepare images for indexing, it still would be nice to bring some important indexer-suggested projects to the top of the queue.

    Ed 31 December 2011
    8:45 am
  70. Do employees at Family Search get paid to do this?

    31 December 2011
    8:28 am
  71. I really enjoy indexing but am wondering when youll start to roll out access to the New Family Search for the indexers? Its been over a year now since you rolled out access to the members of the church, I would think that youd like to reward the indexers and arbitrators with access also

    Nan 31 December 2011
    7:50 am
  72. I have visited the Library very often through the years to aid in my research. And I use Family Search as often as I can find the time. I only wish I could help with the indexing projects. I had done it several years ago for another website, but my busy schedule did not permit to continue. I am an online student, and I am ready to jump into my next career teaching online. This takes most of my day, leaving me some precious time to spend with my family. Perhaps one day... In the meantime, thank you all for your efforts. I look forward to finding more family information as the Messina, Italy records become available. Happy New Year to all.

    Frank Pafume 31 December 2011
    6:57 am
  73. Im also a little confused by this announcement. Will this 1940 Census be free just on FamilySearch, or will the index and images also be free on the partner sites at Archives.com and Brightsolid? I know that Ancestry.com is making 1940 fully free, so Im wondering where it will be free and where we will have to pay....

    Margaret Gregory 24 December 2011
    6:57 pm
  74. Cyndi - I'd suggest calling FamilySearch Support (go to http://contact.familysearch.org to find a toll-free phone number). I believe some of the issues you mention have been fixed, but I don't know the details. Support can walk through each of your concerns.

    GaleK 23 December 2011
    12:37 pm
  75. Alex, thanks for your interest in getting started now. To volunteer to index, click the Indexing link at the top of the page, and then click the Get Started button. The other steps will be laid out for you from there.

    Katie Gale 23 December 2011
    12:33 pm
  76. I enjoy indexing but have basically stopped because Im waiting for you to fix the Mac version of your indexing software. Is there a date in mind for that? Or will you be leaving it as is? I cant do anything there except for the very basics. Most importantly, I cant see the feedback on my previous indexing, just the percent right, which doesnt mean anything. Some of the indexing I was doing required looking at more than one batch at a time and I couldnt do that. For anyone unfamiliar, there is a known bug in the Mac version where clicking on any outside link immediately quits the program. Please let us Mac users know. I would love to do more, including the census.

    Cyndi 23 December 2011
    9:47 am
  77. As one who has done indexing, I am disappointed that with all the 1930 census records I indexed, only the data is available on Family Search. When I try to access the images, which were available during indexing, I am switched to Ancestry.com to view the images but only with a subscription. If the images were on Family Search, why cant they be accessed. Even if they are not cross indexed with the names, they should have some method of being retrieved, even if by roll or district, etc.

    Anice Jengo 21 December 2011
    8:25 am
  78. So you would like people to start indexing some collections you suggest now? Then why do you fail to have any link to a page with information about how to sign up? The support page has some general categories that are not what someone reading this message needs. Tell us HOW to volunteer to do indexing

    Alex Friedlander 20 December 2011
    1:43 pm

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