Posted by Jeanie Croasmun on April 26, 2012 in Collections, Website

Last night we launched another indexed location, this time the District of Columbia. And you can find some amazing people in it.

First, you’ll find the likely suspects – like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover. Plus interesting tots including a one-year-old Marvin Gaye.

With the addition of the District of Columbia, we now have three indexed 1940 census locations. And there are more on their way.  Remember, we’re currently indexing and processing all states in the 1940 census (and territories, too). Our goal is still to deliver to you a fully indexed, complete 1940 U.S. Census as soon as possible so you can search for your ancestor in it by name. We’ll continue releasing indexes on a state-by-state basis, with each going live as soon as the entire state is fully keyed and indexed and has passed through our QA process.

By the way, the view from behind the scenes is amazing – the progress is moving quickly and smoothly. We realize that it may seem like it’s molasses in winter when you’re waiting for a searchable index associated with the state where you’re ancestor lived. But know that before we hit year’s end, you’ll be able to search by name in every census currently available, from 1790 to 1940, on

Start your search now!

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 ...


  1. [QUOTE]
    But know that before we hit year’s end, you’ll be able to search by name in every census currently available, from 1790 to 1940, on

    I LOVE it! A flat declarative sentence without a single wiggle word! Well Done!

    Andy Hatchett

  2. Chris

    “A flat declarative sentence without a single wiggle word!”

    Except that it doesn’t mention which year …..


  3. BobNY

    Will someone tell the programmers so that they will include the completed states in the Old Search drop-down?
    I would have been happier if they had promised a search of EVERY NAME by year’s end. There is room to wiggle.

    Also, another random, undocumented update to the census — I wonder which prior screwup to 1880 they got around to fixing.

  4. Scott

    I guess we just need to focus on that “all done by the end of the year” line, because had we not heard that, it might be a little discouraging that after 3+ weeks since any progress was noted on the status chart, the next highly anticipated update comes out and it’s just that “D.C. is finished now”.

    If its taking weeks to just complete a moderate-sized city, it sounds like we shouldn’t be holding our breath on something like “The state of New York has been indexed”.

    I saw that we were on the verge of the next release of indexed records and assumed that might be another 3 or 4 states being indexed. Ouch.

  5. Tony Knight

    I remember a tutor telling us on a management course in the 1980s never to us as soon as possible as the words totally lack precision.
    Colorado is now available on but has not yet become searchable on Family Search.

  6. Jeff

    >With the addition of the District of Columbia, we now have three indexed 1940 census locations.

    That’s great, but FamilySearch has 8 states at 100% and 6 more states at 90% or better. They are also showing everyone exactly where they stand on each state. My point is that while FS is showing everyone where they stand on indexing, Ancestry is giving the information out on a “we’ll determine when you need to know and not any sooner basis.” As for PR, Ancestry’s staff must have worked on the Edsel. Where do you stand on each state?

  7. Scott

    I have to echo Jeff’s sentiments. I’m still confused as to why it’s so difficult to tell us where we are progress-wise. I completely understand and appreciate how difficult and time consuming the indexing process is, but why can’t we just get some kind of indication of where things stand beyond the very vague “we’re working on it”?

    It seems to me that sharing that info with us would help set reasonable expectations by customers. If you tell me TX, OH, MO are 90% complete, and ID and WA are only 5% complete, I’m going to realize WA is still a ways off and not be completely frustrated when a release comes out that doesn’t include WA.

    Short of that, it would at least be nice if Ancestry could explain WHY they’re not doing that. With no explanation, it leaves us to look at FamilySearch and go “If they can do that, why can’t Ancestry?”

  8. BobNY

    Scott #8

    It would appear that because of ACOM’s anticipated acquisition, they become a de facto member of the indexing consortium.

    It has been announced that will make “substantial financial contributions to make the 1940 US Census online name index possible and work with nonprofit FamilySearch to bring additional new records collections online.”

    One might wonder if ACOM has slowed the indexing project to take advantage of what will become available to them on a silver platter in a few months.

  9. Scott

    It’s just kind of mind-boggling with as much anticipation and promotion of the 1940 Census as there has been, that the company that should be leading the information charge here, immediately goes into “cards close to the vest” mode after the records are released.

    I mean, I would grade the communication effort by while they were scanning the images as ‘A+’. Once the images were scanned and the indexing began….’D-‘. Can we have a parent/teacher conference to discuss the cause of this sharp drop in your grades? Ha!

  10. BEE

    I just got my first 1940 census hint – I’m impressed. The index at the bottom makes for easy reading, but I’m still dealing with:
    “There are currently no All Hints hints in the this Family Tree Tree. Please try a different search.”
    “There are currently no Record hints in the this Family Tree Tree. Please try a different search.”
    Another tree is even worse: All people with hints
    7: All Hints 92: Record 69: Photo 14: Story 2: Member Tree 7…..” There is nothing there!
    Yes, I have “cleared cache, etc” – yes, I have talked to “tech support” – yes, I have reported it!

  11. Lynn Williams-Murphy

    I take it not too many people have actually used the search for DC yet. Because I can tell you I am horrified by the quality of the indexing. In less than five minutes, I submitted name corrections for 6 families. And I wasn’t even looking for 5 of the families. I just noticed bizarre names on the index list and checked the corresponding records. These were easy to read entries, and the indexing for them was horrible. Who is doing the double-checking for this indexing? I missed the volunteer opportunity for for indexing the 1940 census, so I am working on the indexing. But I would be happy to help out at

  12. Nancy

    I agree with #12. I have already found at least six errors in transcription. It would better to have a well-indexed census rather than a rushed one.

  13. Lincoln Lowery

    Re: Lynn & Nancy’s comments: Just to check, I typed in last name of “Smith,” and looked at n odd name that cam up. Sadly, Rutt Adams was unavailable for comment… Rutt Adams is a minor typo, but that is what it says… Line 68:

    ALSO, I tried grabbing the image in the new viewer, and it flew around n the screen. It is acting very hinky. I never liked it, but it is not acting right.

  14. Sandra Summers

    I agree with Scott at #10. I think Ancestry have been poor at managing both expectations and Information. For me, they have learnt nothing from the UK 1911 Census, released in April 2011. Ancestry spent all of last year promising a searchable census.
    What we got was an ‘index'(you try and find Mr Doe), and then the searchable bit, a county at a time. I am not sure whether it is now all searchable, but most people felt that they were being strung along with ‘interim’ information.
    Ancestry: tell people the full picture, please.


    Please, communicate with us. I agree with Scott of April 27th. Give us information to “help set reasonable expectations”. I know this is a huge undertaking and I don’t expect immediate results but I do expect some sort of non vague communication from you. Lets face it, what you are giving us now is not communication at all. I know it will take time to do this but you will end up with informed and happier customer versus frustrated ones.

  16. Jeff

    FamilySearch now has 13 states @ 100% and 4 states @ 90% or better. All we know about Ancestry is that they have Nevada, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

    Come on, Ancestry! Is it all that hard to tell us the status of your indexing project? Your PR staff either is incompetent or hasn’t got a clue on how to keep the customers fully informed.

  17. Bob Shaw

    I can’t belive that just ignores our request for info. We all understand it will take a while, but gives us some some sort of update. If this is to be done by the end of 2012 they will need to do about 6 states a month. We(your customers) are asking for some help. Can we get a responce? Even if its we don’t care about our customers.

  18. Suzan

    Geez zoolie (my grandma’s favourite saying) Ancestry, are you related to JP Morgan Chase? JP Morgan Chase just lost several billion dollars and report that it’s okay because they still have billions more, t’was just a drop in the bucket loss. You obviously, and I say obviously after watching six weeks of member frustration, believe that those of us you lose through lack of GOOD customer service and communication will be okay because we’ll be that drop in the bucket loss. As stated by Lynn Williams-Murphy, #12, I missed the “Will you help us transcribe the census,” announcement (tongue in cheek). I’ve been a member of Ancestry for nearly a decade, spend several hours a day researching genealogy for friends who can’t afford the $1900+ research estimate by your company, have been a genealogist for 35+ years, and find that 7 out of 10 transcriptions on your service are erroneous. I also believe in offering solutions for problems. You could have set up a simple volunteer test for folks like me who are willing to share their time to help index. Many hands make light work. Additionally, you could focus more on customer communication, we do keep you in business. Why not create a “Suggestion Box,” to encourage communication with your customers? Finally, can you give me a good reason why I shouldn’t cancel my subscription and wait until the end of the year when you may have this 1940 index issue resolved?

  19. Linda Ruben

    I would like to know when you can honestly predict that Pennsylvania and New York will be searchable. Yes, the indexers are probably working feverishly to make all this happen, but let’s not forget the the indexers AREN’T, who’s really left us twisting in the wind.

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