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Pitching in

Status, 1940 census indexing

It is almost beyond belief that in the not-quite-three months since the 1940 census was released, on April 2, 2012, the cooperative crowdsourced indexing project called the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project — in which, and are the prime movers — has finished indexing roughly three-fourths of the census data.

To put that into perspective, there were more than 132 million people recorded in the 1940 census.

Now, math is not my strong suit — my college test scores would have placed me squarely into remedial math class had math been required in my major — but even my meager math skills tell me three-fourths of 132 million is one heck of a lot of indexing.

In fact, Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO, reported yesterday that:

     • 105,522,592 names have been indexed
     • 29 states have searchable indexes on
     • 2 additional states are 100% indexed
     • 6 additional states are 75% or more indexed1

And now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and get the job done, with a Five Million Name Day starting tomorrow, Sunday, July 1 (at least in most of the United States). Yep, FamilySearch wants our help — yours and mine — to index five million names in a single day.

This big 24-hour indexing effort will run for 24 hours, starting at midnight Greenwich Mean Time and going around the July 2 Greenwich Mean Time clock. For those of us who don’t set our clocks by Greenwich Mean Time, the U.S. start times — all Sunday, July 1 — are:

     • 1 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time
     • 4 p.m., Alaska Daylight Time
     • 5 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time
     • 6 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time
     • 7 p.m., Central Daylight Time
     • 8 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time and
     • 9 p.m., Atlantic Daylight Time

If you haven’t done any indexing before, it’s easy. There’s a guide to downloading the indexing software and getting started here and you can download the directions in PDF here.

So why is The Legal Genealogist writing about this on a Saturday, a day I usually reserve for writing about my family?

Because this is about my family … and yours … and everybody else’s.

I still have a ton of relatives I simply haven’t had a chance to find in the 1940 census using the available tools (find the 1930 census enumeration district (ED) number, convert it to the 1940 ED number, go page by page through the 1940 ED and hope they didn’t move between 1930 and 1940).

Yes, I’ve found my father and his parents in 1940 Chicago.2 But all the rest of my father’s family was also in Illinois, probably in Chicago. Where were Paul and Hattie Knop? Paul and Elly Froemke? Or Tante Anna, my grandfather’s aunt? Were my father’s cousins Alfred and Willy Benschura already in California or were they still in Illinois? Illinois — whine — is only 48% indexed and Chicago is one big city! So I have a vested interest in getting Illinois finished.

And, yes, I’ve found my mother and her parents in 1940 Midland County, Texas.3 But where was my Uncle Billy in the 1940 census? He wasn’t at home with his parents — was he already in Navy boot camp and recorded there? What about my mother’s cousin Myrtle? Was she still in Texas as a new mother or…? Not to mention the facts that my grandmother had three living brothers and my grandfather had five living brothers and sisters in 1940 — many of them in Texas. And — whine — Texas is only 60% indexed and — sigh — it’s one big state! So I have a vested interest in getting Texas finished, too.

So I know what I’m going to be doing come 8 p.m. EDT tomorrow. I’m going to be pitching in for Five Million Names. Me, personally, I’m going to add my indexing efforts to those focusing on getting Illinois and Texas finished. Come join me!

And, by the way, if by chance your states of interest are already fully indexed, you don’t have to work on the census index. There are tons of other indexing projects involving all kinds of records in nearly every U.S. state and many countries around the world.

Or you could pitch in and help out in Illinois and Texas.

I’d be personally very grateful if you did.


  1. Dennis Brimhall, “CEO Corner: Volunteers and the 1940 Census Effort,” posted 29 Jun 2012, FamilySearch Blog ( : accessed 29 Jun 2012).
  2. 1940 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago Ward 13, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 103-867, page 1,429(B) (stamped), sheet 61(B), household 52, Hugo Geissler household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 Jun 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 947.
  3. 1940 U.S. census, Midland County, Texas, Midland City, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 165-3A, page (illegible)(B) (stamped), sheet 7(B), household 161, Clay R. Cottrell household; digital image, ( : accessed 6 Apr 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 4105.
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