Watchwoman on the Wall

1940 US Census now available for free online, but it’s not your only option

By Mike Wehner, Tecca | Today in Tech – 5 hrs ago

The census is a great way to research your family tree, but there are plenty of other free genealogy resources

The internet age has made a wealth of information available to anyone with a working connection, and being able to move backward in time through detailed records offers the chance to see our family trees in a whole knew way. The United States National Archives has just released an excellent tool for researching just this type of information: a website that houses scans of the entire 1940 U.S. census.

If you’re looking for details about your ancestors, the 1940 census contains a wealth of information you may find useful. The site is filled with high-resolution scans of the handwritten census data, but unfortunately the records aren’t searchable by name. You can, however, search by county, city, and even street name, which should help you find what you’re looking for.

Once you locate a person of interest, each entry is filled with standard census data that can help paint a picture of life in 40s. Individuals are detailed with information including:

  • Age
  • Marital Status – Typically given as either “S” for single or “M” for married.
  • School history – Showing the highest grade completed at the time the census was taken.
  • Living situation – Lists of each home and each person’s relation to the head of household.
  • Employment status – Whether the person has a job, and what that job is.
  • Place of birth – Either the state in which the person was born or the country, if not the United States.
  • Yearly Income

This is invaluable information for anyone trying to fill in some gaps of their family tree. If you happen to know the general area — the most specific the better — where your ancestors made their home here in the U.S., it shouldn’t take you long to paint a picture of your past.

Genealogy for free!
The government census website isn’t the only tool at your disposal when researching your lineage, and some are better than others. Some sites charge for their memberships but will attempt to lure you by allowing you to create a free account, then encourage you to purchase a subscription by preventing free access to all the information and photos you are searching for.

However, there are plenty of free options that have much of the same data — and even more, in some cases — that you can browse for absolutely free.

USGenWeb – A nonprofit project that lets family historians submit any information they might have, which is then curated for easy browsing. The data is broken down by state, and each has its own web page full of data about its residents and their ancestors. County records, maps, census reports, and other statistics are available, and even activity ideas to help kids and their parents connect to the past.

FamilySearch – This site allows users to browse based on name or life events such as births, marriages, and changes of residence. Using the basic search feature should yield plenty of results, and narrowing down each name to find the person you’re looking for is as simple as tweaking the search criteria and checking each entry for things like age, hometown, and relatives. The site will sometimes prompt you to search for photos or other visual aides on — which typically charges for this type of information — but there is plenty of information to be found for no cost.

Cyndi’s List – The nice thing about the internet is that when it comes to finding information on your family tree, you can be certain that someone else has probably already had the same idea. Cyndi’s list is a massive database of genealogy sites both large and small, many of which are dedicated to specific family names. The site currently boasts over 300,000 links, and finding information about your family tree could be as simple as typing your last name into the search bar. Give it a shot, after all, it’s free!

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This article originally appeared on Tecca

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