Ancestry.com was one of the first genealogy companies to complete the records indexing process for the 1940 U.S. Census, which is available at Ancestry,com. All 134 million records are now easily searchable by name, date, place of birth and other key information recorded in the census.
The company has made the records free to search, providing insight for nearly 90 percent of Americans who either have family members recorded in the 1940 U.S. Census or are in it themselves. The indexing also highlights a new feature on the site, which is an interactive image viewer.
The interactive viewer allows researchers to view the original scanned document and then highlight each data entry box to see transcribed information, making it immediately readable at a glance.
The viewer also enables people to zoom in on individual records, dramatically improvinh the usability of the 1940 U.S. Census, which previously only included images of the paper records. These paper records, handwritten in small entry fields, have traditionally been very hard to read, making the visual enhancements in the interactive viewer a huge improvement.
“As one of the most anticipated family history resources ever, the 1940 Census is a fantastic way for almost every American to get started making discoveries about their family history as well as a key new resource for so many of our two million existing subscribers,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. “Experienced through our new Interactive Image Viewer, the stories and discoveries inside the 1940 Census really come to life.”
People visiting the site can now find basic information such as their ancestors’ names and where they lived and, in some cases, occupations or how many people lived in their homes (and whom). Each page of the census is also connected to maps provided by Bing, giving a better sense of geography than any other offering.
For the first time, census takers in 1940 also asked questions specific to income and education. Interestingly, details like prior military service, the ability to read or write, and whether citizens spoke English — all asked in prior censuses — were not asked in 1940.
Although free, Ancestry.com does request a name and email address to be associated with the account prior to viewing. One interesting side note about the new viewing technology is that the documents can also be saved to a computer, making it possible to archive however the person wishes. The 1940 U.S. Census records can be found here.