Gaston County Public Library

The United States Census for Genealogists: 1940

Where to find the 1940 Census

The 1940 Census was released for public use on April 1, 2012.

The indexes and digitized images of the complete 1940 Census are available for free at the following websites:

  • Ancestry.com: You can use Ancestry Library Edition in any of our library branches. If you are using the internet outside the libraries, go to Ancestry's page on the 1940 Census. There is free access to just this part of Ancestry; however, you will need to register for a free Ancestry.com account.
    Go to: http://www.ancestry.com/1940-census
  • FamilySearch.org
    Go to: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2000219

The National Archives provides the images, but not any indexing. It does provide a quick process to save an entire Enumeration District file as a pdf on your own computer.
Go to: http://1940census.archives.gov/

Enumeration Districts

If you wish to browse the area that your ancestor lived in, you will need to know his or her address in 1940 and the census Enumeration District in which that address was located. Then you browse the census population schedules for that district.

Wondering where to find addresses? Try looking in the following: city directories; old family letters, postcards, and address books; WW II draft records (available in Ancestry Library Edition); and the 1930 census if the family lived in the same place at that time.

See “How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step” for a tutorial to using this census.
Go to: http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php

Local

Paper copies of these place name indexes and copies of the Enumeration District descriptions are at all libraries in our county.
Go to: http://gastonlibrary.org/index.cfm/research/genealogy-local-history/census/

Nationwide
  • Steve Morse's website provides 3 utilities to find EDs and go straight to the page you want in the census.
    Go to: http://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html
  • The National Archives provides an ED Map Search. Enter in the search box: 1940 Census maps + the county + the state. For example "1940 Census maps Gaston North Carolina". Warning: these can be very large images.
    Go to: http://www.archives.gov/research/search/

What's on the 1940 Census

  • See a list of the questions asked on the 1940 Census.
    Go to: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/general-info.html#questions
  • Print out a quick reference to the column headings on the 1940 Census form (make sure to print with the paper in the landscape orientation).
    Go to: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/general-info.html#form

Author: Gaston County Public Library
Title: The U. S. Census for Genealogists: 1940
URL: http://gastonlibrary.org/index.cfm/research/genealogy-local-history/census/the-united-states-census-for-genealogists-1940/
Revised: 2 October 2013