Posted by Crista Cowan on June 29, 2012 in Collections, News

What do Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia all have in common? Early this morning, fully indexed census records for each those six states were put online. All images for the 1940 census have been online and fully available to you since the first week of April. But, the completion of these indexes now allows you to search over 39 million records in ten states and the District of Columbia.

Which state are you searching first?

Colorado in the 1940s

Ohio 1940

Pennsylvania 1940

Tennessee 1940

Vermont 1940

Virginia 1940


Do you have relatives in any of these six states? If not, stay tuned, our next indexed states are coming soon!

Search the 1940 census now!

Until next time – Have fun climbing your family tree!

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Google Twitter


  1. Kim

    Does anyone at Ancestry realize how terrible the indexing for the 1940 census is? Almost every ancestor that I’ve searched for has had their name transcribed incorrectly — usually comically incorrectly. My experience with the index so far is that it is virtually useless. Also, most of the records I’ve searched for in Tennessee only have the name that I searched for listed in the household members field. So this field is also useless in helping to locate the correct family. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m extremely disappointed in the quality of the indexing. Ancestry should really be embarrassed by offering such poor quality material to their members.

  2. Nancy

    I am not seeing these newly added states in the drop down menu on the 1940 census search page.

  3. Kim, I remember the 1930 indexing being terrible when it first came out too, and now it is fairly decent.

    I suspect that the indexing just needs to go through a few years of user-submitted corrections (aka alternatives) before it becomes usable.

    Crista: Of those states, Ohio is the one I will be searching first, but mainly I’m awaiting Kentucky.

    My question back to you is, who designs your graphics for these 1940 census announcements, and what software do they use?

  4. Meghan Conroy

    I also wanted to mention that the new states are not appearing in the dropdowns as options. I am looking for some simple names in Ohio but they are not showing up in search results AND I can’t focus my search because the Ohio dropdown is missing. Still waiting to search Ohio records….

  5. robin metz

    I am trying to search 1940 PA census records and whatever is supposed to be working….isn’t. I cannot search by surname and come up with a result. I can only find what I am looking for by going through the ED’s, and then I can’t save what I have found. Very frustrating after all of the hype.

  6. rosejp2

    Thank you so much!!! Almost every one of the approximately 3100 relatives in my family tree lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve already been able to find a bunch of them. Thanks again!

  7. Robert Gilman

    I have tried to see the newly added states on the 1940’s census and they are not even in the list of states that have indexes. What has happened to them. The others came up without difficulty.

  8. steve

    Would anyone know specifically, when’s new dna test will be available? They have away of creating alot of hoopla, and then just dragging the actual results out incomplete. An example of this is indeed the 1940 census.

  9. Nancy

    Apparently you have to switch to New Search in order to view the newly indexed states. However, I still have not had any luck searching Pennsylvania for someone I know was there, as I already found him searching via the ED number.

  10. Tony Knight


    My mind goes blank when I see New Search and I continue to use “Old” for everything. I have been able to search the “new” states by ignoring the state itself in the dropdown and if I needed to narrow the field put soemthing in the county or place.

    So far as not finding things that you know are there, this has been my experience for years with Ancestry, right across the database. Public Member Trees is one of the worst. I prefer to use Family Search as their search engine is much more effective, coming back to Ancestry if FS does not have the image, but Ancestry does.

  11. Skip Harrison

    Like the first poster (Kim), I too am really disappointed with the quality of the indexing so far. Both my parents and grandparents (Harrison)were transcribed incorrectly in separate records in a different manner. When I did find the records and looked at the original documents I could not see how they came up with the spelling they settled on. I have the advantage of knowing what I’m looking for but how one can get Harcow out of Harrison floors me.

    • Trevor Thacker

      Skip (#12) – We’re currently looking into the issue that you are describing. Would you mind providing more details, along with a link to the 1940 census page that you are referring to, via email to We would appreciate it!

  12. BobNY

    Rather than paying someone to create these cute little vignettes for each state, why not pay someone to do quality control on your uniformly atrocious transcriptions.

  13. David Farr

    Your Ohio,indexing is horrible. I found what I was searching for by looking at individual cities and townships,but when searching they don’t show up,apparrently the indexing is hodgepodge at best. please do not eliminate the ability to brose individual records or the census will be useless.

  14. Rick

    I sympathize with Kim (post #1) and agree with Teri (post #3) – I saw this when doing the indexing of 1940 census for – the index for them is done by well-meaning volunteers, some may not be paying a lot of attention or just not that skilled and they put down something just to get through the page. I have compared whole pages and the familysearch index seems to have better transcription. To me the user-update process will have to have time to improve the index’s usefuleness.

  15. Margaret

    I just started looking for people in the 1940 PA census and I am bewildered at how some of these names were transcribed. The only way I have found people I know are there is by location and YOB. I have also found location errors (Stouth for Stout and Whitestone Hill for Yatesville). The handwriting is not that bad. I have submitted corrections but I add my voice to those who would like higher indexing standards. I do not think it is reasonable to wait for user corrections which are haphazard. Ancestry should just do it right the first time.

  16. BEE

    I agree with the comments on transcribing. I’m finding families in PA because I know what I’m looking for and have a few tricks that work for me – using “old search”, even though I’m working with ethnic surnames – but some common first names are badly transcribed, probably by someone who isn’t familiar with “American” names, but isn’t the work checked for errors?

  17. Judy Springer

    I agree with the comments re: the terrible transcribing of the 1940 census. Of the names I have checked there is at least a 25% error rate. I would be willing to correct Jefferson township, Mercer County, Ohio. I am sure that other members may be willing to correct other segments with which they are familiar.

  18. Donna Clouse

    Some of us seniors with serious don’t have time to wait for user corrections to the 1940 census errors. I don’t have a FEW YEARS but I would like to finalize my family tree with the last census (1940) that I’ll ever see. I know it’s a big job BUT we the users pay a premium amount to join Ancestry. I think since you have most of the genealogy sites & software in YOUR control, plus subscriber fees, you could put out top notch material for us to use. I’m going to check back in 6 months to see if Indiana & Arkansas are done before I re-up my membership. Too many places offer the census records for users . We don’t have to settle for less than good for sure.

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