Thousands Volunteer to Make 1940 U.S. Census Data Available Online

More than 160,000 people volunteered to index U.S. Census records online as part of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, the first national service project of its kind. The 1940 U.S. Census records are now available online for free.

family at computerThe 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, the first and largest national service project of its kind, announced that the entire set of 132 million names from the 1940 U.S. Census is now available to the public for free online family history research. The availability of these records means anyone can explore their family tree, discover new information about relatives, and uncover the events that impacted their family 72 years ago. Whether someone is simply curious about their family history or has dedicated several years in search of answers, the availability of the 1940 U.S. Census records marks the unveiling of new avenues of history that can finally be explored.

“As a genealogist, I couldn’t be more excited about having free, online access to the complete 1940 census records. This will truly open new doors and help people uncover important details about their family trees and the history of our country,” says Joshua Taylor, spokesperson for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. “In these records, I’m able to find my own grandmother for the first time, who was responsible for sparking my interest in genealogy as a child.”

In just five months, more than 160,000 volunteers across the nation joined the project to dedicate their time to transferring the 1940 U.S. Census records into a searchable online database. Anyone can begin or continue their quest to explore their family tree immediately on all project partner sites, including:,, and Additionally, the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project partners National Archives and Records Administration and ProQuest plan to make the records available in the coming months. ProQuest will provide the records to more than 7,000 public and academic libraries nationwide through HeritageQuest® Online.

“Making unexpected discoveries is one of the best things about genealogy because you’re able to solve mysteries or simply learn more about your roots,” says Megan Smolenyak, spokesperson for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. “I’m particularly passionate about using the 1940 census records in my work with the U.S. Army to help locate the thousands of family members of soldiers still missing from wars of that generation.”

Thanks to the commitment and passion of the thousands of volunteers who devoted their time to index the 1940 U.S. Census records, many Americans have already had a chance to uncover interesting, and sometimes surprising, insights into their family history, such as learning why the family migrated to another region, discovering an unknown family member, and finally finding a long-lost relative who reveals an entire side of the family tree.

Thanks to advancements in technology since the last release of U.S. Census records, volunteers nationwide have lent a voice to countless untold stories of their ancestors living, working, and persevering as the “Greatest Generation” simply by preserving these records in a convenient, easy-to-search online format. To learn more about the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, its partners, and ways to explore genealogy visit

The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project is a web-based, national service project with the goal of creating, as soon as possible, a free, high quality online index linked to the complete set of census images. The index allows the public to easily search every person found in the census and view digital images of the original census pages. The collection is available online for free to the general public at,,,, and by ProQuest through public and academic libraries. All of these organizations are respective website sponsors of the community project.,, and ProQuest made substantial financial contributions to make the 1940 U.S. Census online name index possible and work with the nonprofit organization FamilySearch to bring additional new historic records collections online—making even more highly valued family history resources available to the entire genealogical community.


Also see:

Thanksgiving Is National Family History Day

NYC Statue Cruises Have 'Gone Green'

Bob Hope Memorial Library Dedicated on Ellis Island