In just over a month, on April 2nd, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will release the 1940 United States Census in digital format. At 9:00AM Eastern Time, the digital images of each Census page will be available for browsing via their special 1940 Census web site: http://1940census.archives.gov/ This is by far the most exhaustive account of our population taken by the government. At this point in our history, the U.S. population was recovering from a depression and just about to head into a world war. The unique information contained within this census provides answers to such questions as: Highest level of education completed, renter or home owner, residence in 1935, yearly income, type of work and industry, mother tongue, number of marriages for women, military veterans/wars fought, & employment seeking habits.
BUT WAIT!! Did you catch what I said about the images? They are BROWSABLE only. In other words, you can see the images but you CANNOT search for a person and find them in this census. It has NOT been indexed yet, and this is where YOU come in! Through a nation-wide, joint effort, the 1940 U.S. Census will be indexed by thousands of VOLUNTEERS. Once the project is completed, the index and images will be accessible to everyone for free, forever! This collaborative initiative is being brought to us by Archives.com, FamilySearch.org and FindMyPast.com with additional sponsorship by the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society.
As part of this community project, the Kentucky Historical Society has partnered as an official Society to help coordinate statewide efforts of our volunteers. By joining with the KHS group, you’ll be notified of indexing training sessions, events and updates on how fast we are going! Plus, each milestone achieved by the KHS group automatically enters our Society into contests and qualifies us for group incentives, such as t-shirt giveaways and other cool stuff!
So....Ready to do YOUR part? Here’s how to help:
- Go to the 1940 Census Community Project home page: https://the1940census.com/ and click on 'Getting Started' to follow the directions for downloading the free indexing software from FamilySearch. After your download is complete, opening the software for the first time will prompt you to create a FamilySearch account IF you do not already have one - after which you will receive a confirmation e-mail. Finish the confirmation from your e-mail prior to moving on to the next step.
- This one is IMPORTANT! Don’t forget to hook your account up to the KHS indexing group! You can do this one of two ways: Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org your name and login name from the indexing account you just created. DON’T send us your password! Or, you can edit your indexing profile to reflect a group affiliation and select Kentucky Historical Society from the drop-down group list. Your new indexing profile info can be accessed through: https://indexing.familysearch.org/ by clicking on the “my info” link in the top right corner of the screen. The group affiliation section is listed under the “Additional Indexing Information” section, just below your “Family Search Account Information”. Just click the edit button at the bottom of the page to change your group info.
- PRACTICE! In preparation for the April 2nd launch, download a batch of 1940 simulation census pages or regular (non-1940) records to start indexing today! If you have not done this before, go through some of the tutorials available under the “help” tab of the indexing portal listed in step 3. Indexing sounds pretty easy, but each type of record has its own set of instructions, and it is really important to train yourself to double check your work or slowly follow the directions for each part of the record in order to keep errors low!
- HAVE FUN!! Once you get the hang of indexing, you will have a great time - kind of like playing a historical video game! After we get a large batch of volunteers we will be looking through your scores (yes, you get accuracy scores after each batch is finished) to find high quality indexers for arbitration roles. We will fill you in later on how the arbitration works, but essentially, you get an additional responsibility of arbitrating between two indexers' interpretations just prior to the images/index going live online!
Indexing Training Opportunities Coming Up:
- March 15th, 5:30-6:00PM – Introduction to Indexing: Helping You Get Started (Library)
- March 21st, 2:00-2:30PM – Introduction to Indexing: Helping You Get Started (Library)
- March 29th, 5:30-6:00PM – Introduction to Indexing: Helping You Get Started (Library)
- March 30th, 10:30-11:00AM - Introduction to Indexing: Helping You Get Started (Library)
- Beginning April 4th – Drop-in Indexing Station. There will be one table/station set up in the Library dedicated to Indexing activity. Feel free to bring along your laptop, or use one of ours to sit and index as a group. Staff will be on hand to help you get started, or troubleshoot any issues you may be having. This station will be up and running during our regular open hours until Kentucky is completely indexed!
- April 14th, 10:30AM-2:30PM – 2nd Saturday – The 1940 Census: Introduction, Instruction and Celebration!
Tools you can use to narrow your image browsing on April 2nd!
--Cheri Daniels, Senior Librarian/Reference Specialist