Posted by Jeanie Croasmun on April 9, 2012 in Collections, Website

What a difference a week makes. Since the National Archives released the 1940 Census to us last Monday, we’ve been hard at work to get every one of the 3.8 million 1940 Census images online. And while we were at it, we indexed two of the states, Nevada and Delaware, and made them searchable by name.

Visit the 1940 Census, to find the state you’re interested in. Look above the Browse box for a link to our FREE research guide to help you find your family in 1940, if your state isn’t yet indexed. And remember, you can search by name in Nevada and Delaware.

By the way, we’re not slowing down anytime soon.  We’re continuing to index states. And we’ll let you know the minute the ones you’re interested in are ready.

Learn more about 1940 at

Jeanie Croasmun

Jeanie Croasmun has been working at while futilely attempting to prove the horse thief story in her family history for over seven years. During that time, she learned enough about her family to determine that the story is likely a great work of fiction. But the search continues ...




  2. Donn Martin


    When I try to search your 1940 Census Beta database, my computer is immediately hung up with a blank screen informing me that I’m trying to install an Adobe Flash Player that is incompatible with my system. I have a Mac ibook (PowerMac) with OS X v.10.5.8. All of my Apple software is up-to-date.

    I have called your Contact/Customer Service twice, but following their suggestions made no difference. Up to nowI have been able to see all your images from other censuses (e.g. 1930) using ANY of your viewing options.

    I’m almost ready to give up and look elsewhere for access to the 1940 Census, but I do trust your ability to help me with this problem


    Donn Martin

  3. Rebekah

    Way to go Ancestry. I’ve been lucky enough to find my parents, grandparents and a few others located in fairly small towns in South Carolina, Idaho and Washington. I was even able to locate my husband and his parents in New York City using the enumeration district helper you so graciously provided. Of course there are many more to find but since I don’t have any street addresses I will have to wait til the indexed version is complete. Thanks again – already solved one big mystery that has produced many new people for the family tree.

  4. Denisa

    Thanks for all your hard work. It is appreciated! I understand this was a holiday weekend. That’s cool. I’m wondering if indexing has come to a halt today as there hasn’t seemed to be any progress today.

  5. BobNY

    “By the way, we’re not slowing down anytime soon. ”
    If that is true, why was your last update at 4:09 am MDT, 06 Apr 2012. And why are we still looking at the first 2 states and nothing else since 5 Apr?

  6. Florencia

    My last name is SANTO MARTIN, but the software thinks is SANTO only. All searches do not work because SAN is not my last name but SANTO MARTIN is. If there is no fix for this I would like a refund. I don’t like not being able to search records because of a software limitation in data fields. Couldn’t you just separate last name from first and middle on your data fields so there are no problems interpreting names instead of using one single field for all?

  7. Janna

    I would have to agree with BobNY. You guys did excellant getting all the images online but as far as indexing goes it’s definately a lot slower. One would hope the huge amount of people that worked to scan are also indexing and if they really aren’t enough hire more or ask for volenteers. I am sure there would be lots of people in your home state that would love to help out.

  8. Pat Secord

    In response to those who are disappointed in the lack of progress on the 1940 Census – this has got to be a monumental task. can be very frustrating at times, but I believe they’re plowing through this as fast as they can. This was a holiday weekend, too, which may have slowed some of the progress. These are “volunteers” – and I imagine some of them may have had holiday plans. Give ’em a break!

  9. BobNY

    “In response to those who are disappointed in the lack of progress on the 1940 Census . . .”
    It would appear that you are talking to me. You missed my point, actually 2 of them. First, don’t have an ACOM marketing flak tell paying subscribers that “we are not slowing down” and, then, not even update the progress for four days. I am not disappointed in the lack of progress, I am disappointed at the continuing disconnect between the marketing mavens at ACOM and the people who actually operate the site.

    Secondly, I am disappointed in ACOM’s continuing practice of beginning an endeavor, trumpeting it far and wide, then letting the ball drop before reaching the finish line. (Talk about mixed metaphors!)There is a long, long list of fixes that they have promised and not delivered upon, but now we have the 1940 Nevada and Delaware indices. Way to go ACOM.
    BTW, why do you think the indexing is being done by volunteers? Not. I doubt many Chinese or Ugandans had specific Judeo-Christian holiday plans.

  10. Jeff

    I found the 1940 Census to be a bit of a disappointment. For all the buildup prior to its release, IMHO, it isn’t worth it. There is information that was on previous censuses that was more valuable to family historian/genealogist that wasn’t included on this census. Then there was information that was included that I felt was a complete waste of time. I would include most of the Employment section. Then there were numerous columns that were empty. Those empty columns could have been put to better use. The 1935 section was nice, but didn’t make up for information that wasn’t on this census and included information that wasn’t necessary IMO.

  11. John Hirschmann

    I totally agree with BobNY (#10) After reporting great progress thru 409a MT Apr 6 — they are now reporting absolutely no change in the next 4.5 days. They were supposedly working on DC DC’s population is not that large — it should be done by now and if for some reason it is not — they should at least be able to tell us how many ED’s have been done. If they are doing states, they can tell us what county etc they are. Their behavior is equivalent to a plane not having left the gate for an hour after it should have, but not telling the passengers anything about what is going on. People get very frustrated by this total breakdown both in terms progress and now a total lack of communication to their customers. You don’t make a positive impression when that become your Corporate behavior.

  12. Suzan

    An observation….

    I thought that perhaps the cache wasn’t refreshing correctly as I’d had the page open for a week on my computer so I logged out. Without logging back in I noticed that the message for the 1940 census was different and it mentioned that the census was free to non-subscribers until April 10th.

    A sudden epiphany….the index was being delayed as a hook to get people to subscribe. As a genealogist for the past 30 years I know all too well what a time consuming guessing game you play by searching the census page by page and in this day of instant gratification, who wants to go back to that process.

    My prediction…no progress until after it’s no longer free and then it will flood in miraculously.

  13. dannieb

    To Alan#14 – please report on the “report problem” button on the individual page! I’ve heard form several researchers that problem pages have been fixed VERY promptly.

  14. MaryS

    Thanks Ancestry! I found everyone I was looking for. The beta release of the public directories was a great help as well to narrow down addresses. I spent a very enjoyable few days. I found your site and images to be top notch for the most part with only a few exceptions. (I think the exceptions were a victim of the ink/writing material used by the census taker.) Much better and easier to use than the archives site.

  15. Jeff Re: #12

    The questions on each census are designed to capture certain data about American society the government is interested in at that particular point in history. To the best of my knowledge, the genealogical aspects of the census have never, in and of themselves, been that important to the government.

    I imagine the 1950 census will be even more disappointing to genealogists.

    Andy Hatchett

  16. Jeff

    Andy Re: #19

    Thanks, but I am well aware why certain questions were asked. Many thanks to FDR and his WPA boys.

  17. Denisa

    Re: Suzan: Great catch! Let’s see if they start making progress again soon! I have only found a couple people, and those were by accident. I was actually looking for others and ran across those.

    Ancestry: Not sure what’s up with the delays and lack of explanation, unless it was what Suzan suggested. Please give us an update soon and let us know what’s up!

  18. Sue

    WHY aren’t the image indexes being added to the rest of the states? I am more than disappointed by the sudden stoppage. My Mac does not allow me to view the images using the current format. So, when are the indexes going to be added for the other states? I am more than disappointed with Ancestry right now. I have not gotten any answers to my questions from Ancestry Anne. Customer Service was not able to help me with questions I had and in asking for help. Overall, not too happy with Ancestry right now.

  19. Phil

    I too have been disappointed that Ancestry stopped updating the indexing status 6 days ago. I think that there are at least 2 explanations, the first is that it is some sort of marketing strategy to entice more members and the second is that there is a technical problem. Whichever it is those of us who already pay for this service deserve a little honesty from Ancestry on their progress.

  20. John

    Re #19 — The questions asked on the 1950 (and all subsequent censuses) is public info — it is the answers given you can’t see for 72 years.

  21. k micklin

    Not only is Ancestry failing to give us an update on the progress of the 1940 census but they have failed to update Recent Member Connect Activity since Mar 31st. I understand they are very busy, I also understand they are competing with other sites to be the first to have it (indexed)…….but Ancestry’s lack of communication with us is unacceptable.

  22. Pat Secord

    OK – I have to agree with you all – I was trying to give Ancestry a pass, knowing that indexing this is a huge project. But, it’s obvious that things have come to a halt and we haven’t received any updates at all. I had also noticed, like #25 k micklin, there hasn’t been any activity on Recent Member Connect.

  23. SUE92846

    I agaree with BobNY!
    ““By the way, we’re not slowing down anytime soon. ”
    If that is true, why was your last update at 4:09 am MDT, 06 Apr 2012. And why are we still looking at the first 2 states and nothing else since 5 Apr?”

    That was exactly my question. Why aren’t you updating that chart on the 1940 webpage?????? Come on! I don’t pay $300 a year for this kind of service. You’ve had 10 years to get ready for this onslaught. You should have been expecting it!

  24. Stuart

    I’m wondering how Nevada and Delaware managed to be done so quickly, and then no further progress. I agree that volunteers should be recruited; it would potentially make this process a lot faster and also concentrate on the areas that the volunteers want to see covered.

    Not that I’m complaining. Glad to see the info on line and hoping to see the index progress.

  25. John

    Turns out that in 1940 Nevada was the least populous of the 48 states (AK and HI were still territories) with 110,247 people and DE third least populous with 266,505 people. This means in 9 full days since census has been available that 376,752 have been done or 0.285% of the total population of 132,164,569. Doing some extrapolating — if proceeds at this pace it will take them 8.6 years to complete. It will not take more slowing down to result in them still working on it when the 1950 census is released on April 1, 2022.

    So please let us know what is really going on. Maintaining corporate silence is not winning you any goodwill points with your customers.

  26. If you go back and read old posts you will see the same basic complaints were made at the time the 1930 index was being done – and yet Ancestry managed to get the whole thing done in 10 months (April 2002-January 2003).

    The lack of reports on progress does *not* equate to lack of progress.

    Andy Hatchett

    • trevorthacker

      We are working to index the 1940 census as quickly as possible. Since we are indexing the census state-by-state, we will provide updates on the 1940 census Ancestry page as soon as a state index is complete. We are anticipating to have the basic index for all 3.8 million images complete by the end of this year. Click here for more information:

  27. rstlahey

    I want to say thank you to all your employees for their diligence in making the 1940 census available. It is truly amazing that within days of the release date, I was able to search by enumeration district and find both of my parents thru I’m looking forward to when all the states are indexed and I can update my tree with relatives’ residences of 1940.

    Again, kudo’s to you!! Keep up the wonderful work!
    Best regards, Rhonda

  28. A big dissappointment for my family search in the 1940 census….I know where they lived, I know the address, and they’re not listed…zilch, nada. In both Minnesota and South Dakota. Recognized neighbor’s names,and I think there has to be a mistake……..Did NOT the census takers go back to a residence if they found no body at home the first time? Did find relatives in other 1940 census searches though,in Minnesota. So, the beta tech is user friendly. I too, sent a ‘help’ to for any answers, and no response. UMMM, I wonder.

  29. Kathleen J. Palone

    Thanks so much to Ancestry for getting us the 1940 Census so quickly. Finding my Mom in 1940 was a snap because she lived in a small community in California. My Dad…another story. He and his folks were living in Los Angeles, California. It took me a while to discover your enumeration district helper that allowed a searcher to put in the street name. My mother is 87 and was able to tell me, not only the street name my dad lived on but the exact address and the major surrounding streets. Thank goodness my Mom has a mind like a steel trap. Thanks again Ancestry for a job well done.

  30. Lorelee

    What in the world is wrong with people? Complain, complain. If you don’t like ancestry there are two other sites that have the images for free. Without Ancestry I would not have found newspapers with info and would not have found many cousins. Good grief the census has been on line 10 days and you expect millions of names and info to be indexed? Patience is virtue.

  31. Liz

    Right on, Lorelee! Which part of “it isn’t all indexed yet” is too difficult to take in? Go away and come back in the fall. Let your blood pressure go down. Thanks to Ancestry and all the indexers who are working very hard right now to get this indexing done, proofed, and underway for our use!

  32. BobNY

    Does anybody actually read the previous entries before going off on a rant? We understand “it isn’t all indexed yet.” What we don’t understand is some marketing maven trumpeting “we’re not slowing down anytime soon. We’re continuing to index states.” and not have any updates in 5 days or any new indices in six.

    My educated guess is that indexing has stopped while they try and resolve some issues with the original upload and the pointers from the indexing to the population schedule.

    It is already apparent that there are problems with some of the uploaded images, viz., sheets from EDs in NYC that blend into the next ED. There are also documented problems with the Nevada index pointing to the wrong county’s population schedule.

    Despite trevorthacker’s repetition of the company line, I think their lack of communication is indicative of a problem larger than “there are lots of names to index.”

  33. I agree with K Micklin, #25. Communication is key to happy customers. I sent an e-mail to customer service about member connect not updating for 8 days, since the 31st. I got a prompt response, which was nice, but it was the corporate management 101 answer, “We are aware of the problem. Thank you for your patience.” Aren’t they aware that my patience ran out and that’s why I contacted them? This is same practice of secrecy they displayed after the first of the year, when they updated and everything went haywire.

  34. Kenneth Mckinzie

    you make a big deal about having all the census data available. It is already available at the US census web site. I am paying you to index the info.

  35. John

    I ahare #37 concerns/comments. Much of this has to do with (mis)managing expectations of the customers.
    The postings last week strongly suggested they were working this 24/7 — let me have had no update since early last Friday — now some 5.5 days ago. The posting by Trevor Thacker earlier today was helpful — that was a posting that well buried up to then. Now we know to not expect it to be completed until abt Dec. However, this implies it will be done over 39 weeks. (Apr 1-Dec 31) That implies a weekly rate of approximately 3.4 million records being indexed. So far less than 400,000 have been done. Given that on would not expect DC which has less than 700,000 records to be still be in the pipeline. So #37 speculation that they may be having problems has merit.

    So why does not just be a little bit more forthcoming with a customers. Unexpected problems do happen, but if your airplane has to leave late, when the airline/pilot tells what is happening and what the new schedule is likely to be — you are much more likely to be understanding than when they stonewall you. Same thing applies here. John

  36. Linda J. Barnes


    Like Poster #2/Donn Martin on April 9 – When I try to search Ancestry’s 1940 Census Beta database, my computer is immediately hung up with a blank screen informing me that I’m trying to install an Adobe Flash Player that is incompatible with my system. I have an eMac (PowerMac) with OS X .10.4.11. I have never had a problem viewing or downloading ANY of the federal census records for 1790 through 1930. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW? Am I supposed to purchase a new computer in order to access the 1940 census? This isn’t fair or feasible for me !$!$ HELP! I am a paid subscriber and certainly am disappointed that I cannot access these 1940 records here where my Ancestry Family Tree is and I would be attaching all kinds of great new data IF these glitches were worked out in advance!

    Very disappointedly yours,
    Linda J. Barnes

  37. Tony Knight

    Can anyone offer up a way of saving the images to your computer with a file name of your own.

    I am using a Mac and Firefox and therefore right click and save but am not offered the opportunity to assign a file name.

    For other years I am still using the standard viewer and don’t have the problem.

  38. Scott

    I’m not so much disappointed that the indexing is taking awhile (I think I have realistic expectations on how huge a task that is. I’ve transcribed some docs myself, and remember the time it took with 1930 too), but what does disappoint me is that the status updates of whats being worked on/what coming have stopped. When they were scanning the images, they were updated the status 2 or 3 times a day. Now the status updates have just completely stopped. Can we at least get the status updates to keep coming?

  39. Tony Knight


    Yes. That is what I am doing, I don’t fancy doing it everytime for the 6000 or so images I will ultimately need.


  40. Donna Goodwin

    If you all want the indexing done faster, go to and sign up to help or aid your local Historical Society. They can use your help.

  41. J Monks

    Why is Ancestry only releasing whole states at a time? At this rate, imagine how long it will take to index states like New York. Is there a logical or maybe technical reason Ancestry could not release indexed counties as they are completed? At least there would be some new info on a daily basis to satisfy impatient people like me.

  42. Anna Richter

    I’ve been a happy and enthusiastic Ancestry subscriber for two years. I didnt expect the indexing of the 1940 census to be a quick and easy job, but the lack of communication and updates (none since April 6th) is completely inconsiderate of Ancestry’s customers. Even if there was no progress whatsoever, I wish they’d communicate with us, post an update. This is a major customer relations faux pas.

  43. Tony Knight


    The answer is undoubtedly that it would not be a great deal of use. However having worn the hat of a Complaints Manager at one time, I would say that changing the date would at least change the nature of the winge and having an indication of the % done would be even better along with a column showing the total enumerated in each state, as well.
    What is undoubtedly concerning people is that if it is intended to produce the index in 12 months say, you need to be producing entries at the rate of more than two million per week if you use a team of constant size or alternatively keep pushing more and more resources in as time goes if you do not. We do not know how Ancestry are approach the task, although I did find a somewhat rash statement that they intended to have a basic name index shortly after publishing the images and would upgrade thsi in due course.



  44. Stuart

    1940 Census at

    Oregon 95% indexed
    Colorado 99% indexed
    Kansas 97% indexed
    Virginia 78% indexed…


    And they will accept your assistance.

  45. Stuart

    In between my last comment and this one, I indexed an entire page of the Massachusetts Census on, as well as some other documents from Puerto Rico.

  46. Spokanna

    To Tony 45 and Andy 47 regarding the save option. I thought there was a problem also with naming my saved item, then noticed a pop up at the BOTTOM of the image. There is a save tab and when you open that one there is the Save As option.

  47. Tony Knight


    Thanks. Couldn’t get the pop up, but in Actions, Options I have been able to switch out of the interactive viewer and problem solved.


  48. Joseph Reinckens


    It’s April 15. FamilySearch has had over 60,000 volunteers (including me) indexing. THEY have ONE state done–Delaware. And they’re not indexing anywhere near ALL fields.

    I was wondering/thinking about using indexers in China or India. The problem is that they aren’t familiar with AMERICAN surnames. Most of the pages are in cursive, not printed. Often it’s difficult to distinguish a, o, and e or e and i. Same for m and n and a number of other pairs. WE recognize the names because we’ve seen them all our lives. Indexers in low-wage countries won’t. They would make a HUGE number of mistakes compared to Americans or Canadians. Also, they would have to double-check the spelling of a huge number of place names.

  49. Joseph Re: #58

    The indexers in China or India couldn’t be much worst than those indexing for FamilySearch!

    Consider- this is from their blog on April 6, 2012

    As of Thursday, April 5th, we have more than 60,300 volunteers working hard to index and arbitrate the states that have been posted.

    To date we have indexed more than 2.5 million records and arbitrated nearly 2 million records. This is a remarkable accomplishment considering that we’ve been doing this work for only 3 days.

    Thus, before bring arbitrated, there was an error rate of 80% in what was indexed!

    It would appear the FS indexers aren’t that familiar with American names either.

  50. Tony Knight


    I assume that your quote ends at “3 days”

    What I would conclude from the quote is that 2.5 million records have been indexed and 2 million of them have been checked, the difference being down to fewer “arbitrators”

    Poor use of English rather than indictive of anything else. Yes there will be errors, but Ancestry has them as well, in all its databases, and then there are Public Member Trees.


  51. BEE

    Is it possible to choose a particular city to be indexed on FamilySearch? I’d be happy to do my own, and the one where my mother grew up in a different state, as I would be familiar with names, streets, etc.

  52. Denisa

    I’m actually getting anxious bout Washington, DC being finished. I may be one of a few waiting, as my grandfather lived in DC from 38-42. Despite knowing his address in March 1939, I still can’t find him.

    Ancestry, please show some progress and get DC done, or tell us what’s going on.

  53. Tony Knight

    The following was taken today from the Family Search site.
    Yesterday’s Stats:
    24,954 volunteers participated
    2,662,249 records indexed (A&B)
    1,169,339 records completed (arbitrated)
    Friday at 18:50 via HootSuite

  54. Stuart


    I seriously doubt that there is an 80% error rate in FamilySearch’s indexing. I assume that means that there is “coverage” of 80% of the records that have been arbitrated, or in other words, that they have been certified as having passed through arbitration. I would bet that only a small number of the records within that coverage have actually been arbitrated.

    For me, they don’t really need to index all fields. All I need is the names; I can get the rest off the records. And, should they choose, they can always have volunteers go back and index more fields in the records later and add them to the index. It might be even best to start by indexing less fields so we can simply find our ancestors.

  55. Stuart

    Does somebody have information that indexers in China and India are being used? I haven’t seen that posted anywhere, but I haven’t looked everywhere where that information might be, either.

  56. Stuart

    I have to admit that Ancestry is ahead so far in the actual number of indexed records posted (2 states vs. FamilySearch’s 1 state) and searchable. But FamilySearch is definitely winning in the transparency battle on updating as Ancestry’s updating process is more of a black box.

  57. Stuart

    What would be awesome would be if all the companies that are creating indices collaborated on one index that was just shared among all participants. That way, it would come out a lot faster, and a lot of work would not have to be duplicated. Also, it could be started with fewer fields just to get it out with information that helps to find people (names, ages, maybe another field or two), and more fields could be added after the first round came out. Maybe somebody will listen to this suggestion and have it ready in time for the 1950 Census.

  58. Andrea

    I think we all agree it is a monumental task. My member connect activity has not been updated since 4/2 and 1940 census index status board has not been updated since 4/6. Communication is the key to understanding and good business practice. I called customer support and was advised that they do seem to be having some computer problems (actually I felt the rep didn’t have a clue and would say anything to get me off the phone.) Ancestry please communicate with your clients we deserve that much. One day, one week, one month, it is all history and most of us have time to wait but communication and honesty make the wait more plesant.

  59. Tom S

    New with the 1940 Census, you require use of Flash Player to access the content.

    I have found Flash to be a buggy, unreliable, resource hogging, insecure piece of pollution and don’t allow it to run on any of my computers.

    It is NOT ACCEPTABLE for Ancestry to require the use of Flash to access paid-for content.

  60. Trevor

    Tom, There is a way to access the 1940 census images without Adobe Flash. Please contact us toll free at 1-800-262-3787; we would be happy to help.

  61. Scott

    @ Stuart, I get where you’re going with the “great if they all collaborated on one index”…but on the flip side of that, I think a little diversity of indexes is good, and with more than one source indexing records, no one source can sit back and “slow play” a dangling carrot of “indexes coming soon!” as a subscription enticement if the other sources are already churning them out. You’ve got to stay on the ball with the indexing, or people will just go to other the other sites. From a ‘speed of getting them all done’ perspective though, yeah, all sources working together would be great. It would be fantastic if they got together and said “We’ll work on these states, you guys take these ones” etc.

  62. Mick

    Its been a year now since Ancestry acquired the England & Wales 1911 census (35 million records) and the indexing is not finished yet.

  63. Ron

    Maybe you could get the janitor to at least change the date? It’s been stuck on 06 April 2012 for almost two weeks. 🙁

  64. John

    For those who may not have noticed, comments about the both the lack of progress and communication — this theme has also been picked up in the thread “1940 U.S. Census: So Many Questions Waiting to be Answered:” Many are also commenting there on the lack of progress and what is probably even more concerning, the total absence of any comment from as to why there is evidence of any progress having been made over the past 12+ days.
    Some have commented that we should be more understanding, that this is big project. However, created the impression by its early postings that we should be expecting to see much much progress.

    Successfully marketing the 1940 census and making its contents easily available to its customers has to be the top business opportunities for (ACOM) over this decade. To have failed so poorly has to be seen as major business failure on their part. is a publicly traded firm with a market value of about $1 billion. It used to be significantly more valuable.

    Given this performance — my advise to any investor would be take a short position in ACOM. The value of business cannot help but decline as the investment community learns how poorly ACOM has responded to this once in a decade opportunity to grow its business.

    I have always been a major supporter of and its products. However, in this instance, their performance has become a major major disappointment. They have really let me and there other customers down and they don’t even have enough business sense to acknowledge it and apologize.

    I sincerely hope whomever at monitors these comments makes sure your top management knows how poorly they are currently being perceived by their customers.

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