Posted by Paul Rawlins on August 3, 2012 in Website

Today is all about numbers.

The first is 100, as in 100 percent of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census is now indexed. That means all 50 states are available to search to your heart’s content.

Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from. Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count.


The Oldest American(s)

We came up with a tie for the oldest person in the census: Mary Dilworth of Oxford, Mississippi,



and Cándido Vega Y Torres of Guayama, Puerto Rico, both listed their ages as 119.



We identified 35,646,274 heads of household, for an average household size of 3.7 people. The average age of the respondent who talked with the enumerator was 43.


Where Did They All Come From?

It’s probably not difficult to guess the number one state reported as birthplace on the census, but a couple of the other nine might surprise you. Here they are in order:

New York







North Carolina



Amongst foreign-born folks, the top five reported birth countries were








So, What’s Your Name?

We can also tell you the top 10 male and female names on the 1940 census:























If you need proof, just stroll down this street in Butler, PA:



The top five surnames in the 1940 census were Smith, Johnson, Brown, Williams, and Jones.


Who Do You Want to Find?

But the most important number in the 1940 U.S. Census might be 1. That one date you’ve been waiting to find. That one relative you hadn’t been able to locate until now. That one discovery that opens up a dozen more. One more question, one more record, one last look…

So dig in and enjoy. After all, it’s 10 years before we get another one.


  1. cecelia coxe

    I’m happy you did this I’m looking for someone named earl hastle evans a linesman from ft. Lauradale florida lived in lafayette louisiana 1960 help someone

  2. mildred williams moseley

    So looking forward to seeing my mother’s handwriting on census pages from Hartley county Texas as she was an enumerator (as a 6 year old, I was allowed to ride along but had to stay in car).

  3. Paul Rawlins

    I realized I may need to correct my title. That would technically be 48 states and a handful of territories. We hadn’t offically welcomed Alaska and Hawaii into the Union yet in 1940.

  4. Toni Porta

    I’ve spotted an indexing error on one of my family members. How do I go about notifying From your image of the 1940 Census it’s easy to see how there was confusion (I’ve done some indexing myself)and my relative’s age in 1940 is just about indicernable. My aunt’s age is indexed as 34 when she was in fact only 12. She’s still alive, and in 2007, had e-mailed me not only her own birth date, but those of all of her siblings, who are now deceased.

  5. Tom Plocinik

    Ok so you say your done. But the indexing was terrible. So many names were messed up that were so easy to read. Look at Gilberton, PA, it is terrible. I submitted over 100 corrections. Will you be going back and correcting mistakes that people point out. Yes, please.

    • Trevor Thacker

      While the 1940 U.S. census index is complete on Ancestry, we do continue to refine and improve our processes and look for opportunities to make mass corrections to databases and release improved versions down the road. We also welcome and encourage members to participate and contribute to the improvement process. To do so, click here:

  6. John

    Any idea why the feature to allow you to e-mail access to/share an individual census record works just fine with Firefox but will not work with Chrome? I have not tested it with IE

  7. “Correcting Census”

    While Ancestry won’t ‘correct’ a census, they do offer a way to annotate an image by either leacing a comment about it of offering alternate info for it which is added to the database to help others find it.

    If you are unfamiliar with this process, I’s suggest visiting the Ancestry Site Comments Message Board

    There are several people there who can post screen shots showing you just what you need to do.

  8. Laurice Johnson

    Please update your drop-down state list to include all the states!!! Second request! IOWA isn’t on the dropdown state list! ARGHHHHHH!!!

    • Trevor Thacker

      Laurice (and for anyone else experiencing the issue), If you are not seeing certain states appear on the drop-down menu when utilizing the Old search, press the Control key (CTRL) and F5 key at the same time on your keyboard. This should refresh the page and resolve the issue.

  9. Leanna Veazey

    Updating drop down box would be terrific!! How long ’til that gets done? Thank you though for all the hard work transcribing and indexing.

  10. Teresa Whitehead

    Woohoo! The image of the (same) names in PA made me laugh out loud. Thanks for including it. Fascinating stats.

  11. Janna

    Sorry but you just have too many errors. While Familysearch got their index done just as quickly I have to admit it has far less errors. I think you tried to hard to beat them and you ended up with a poor index. It’s also hard to find people. I have experienced many issues in putting in someone’s info only to not find them. I’ve ended up finding them at Familysearch instead.

  12. Kirk Sellman

    My great-grandfather’s family name was McHendry. The census taker wrote it as McHendry with the ‘c’ underlined and raised to the upper part of the line. The transcriber showed it as Mc Hendry, which meant I couldn’t find McHendry in the index. I changed Mc Hendry to McHendry in your 1940 census, and also for a McCoy family who lived near them, but you might want to be aware that that will be a problem for people with ‘Mc’ in the first part of their last name in the Ottumwa, Iowa census for that enumerator.

  13. Sandra Gustin

    Does anyone know what field order the search engine uses?

    Either the index is not complete OR the search engine is not big or fast enough to find everything. I know that in searching for someone there are numerous ways a person can be listed – Robert “Bubba” Milo Thompson (not really anyone I know), could be listed as Rob Thompson, R M Thompson, R Thompson, Milo Thompson, Bob Thompson, Bobby Thompson, Bubba Thompson, etc. And a female can be just as difficult, plus have a different married last name than you know of. HOWEVER, if you check and you still might not find the same thing.

    For example, after checking and not finding several of my relatives, I decided to go with someone I was sure of: James Henry Sink, born 1880 in Virginia. In, the right one (James H Sink of Gills Creek Mag Dist, Franklin Co, VA) comes up right away. In Ancestry, I can’t find this family at all. BTW, the daughter listed as Prine is really Irene.

    I typed Wayne Hostetler residing in Virginia in family search and I get 5 results – not a one of them with the ‘l’ in Hostetler. Add birthplace of Indiana and now I get
    28 results (13 are spelled Hostetler, 6 are Wayne Hostetler all residing in Indiana, None of the 28 reside in Virginia). The same search in ancestry gives 3,814 matches, but only 5 Wayne Hostetler and none of them live in Virginia. Try W Hostetler residing in Virginia and you get 3,206 results – no Wayne is listed on the first two pages (50 results) at least.

  14. Long time user

    I can’t believe some of the dumb transcriptions in the 1940 census indexes. The names are so clear in 95% of the cases and still the transcriptions are so far from what they really are. Maybe this time they used monkeys…cheaper labor. They got paid peanuts.

    But I guess I should not complain, there’s that 5% which are good. I will continue to make corrections.

  15. Mary of Santa Barbara

    Appreciate the effort, but indexing does not seem to be “done”. Too many transcription errors and not sure what the search problem is. Even when entering a person’s census details (found on’s free 1940 Census site) I often get no hits. Perserverence and deploying all kinds of tricks (wildcard, etc.) does result in a nice image, that can be attached to a person’s profile.

    Though the indexing effort still needs quite a bit of work, love your service. The speed with which we can find our families is light years ahead of where we were 10 years ago.

  16. Monika

    Hhhmmm! I know that there were relatives alive and well and living in Oakland, California, in 1940 (and alive enough to be able to confirm that fact for me), but I cannot find them when searching for their 1940 Census record! So, I guess I have to become creative and figure out how their names could have been misspelled! Nonetheless, kudos for all your hard work! While I am already blogging, let me deal with a slightly different issue: someone complained that the 1940 census does not show up as a “leaf” on a profile page yet. I had a problem that surprised me last week. Have a profile page for an ancestor in one of my trees, and ended up facing a brick wall from here on, despite spending some time in “search” mode to find more data on her. Had spelled the name correctly three years ago, but never got a leaf for her to guide me further. Revisited that profile page again last week! Since I knew her brother lived with her in the 1900 Census, I decided to give him a separate profile page of his own (even though I am not really interested in him, since I only deal with direct blood lines). No sooner than that I had done this that I had a “leaf” on his profile page that led me to two ancestry trees that had HIS SISTER (the ancestor of interest) and her ancestry in it, spelled the same way I had spelled it, plus a nickname. Is your “leaf” system this sensitive that an additional nickname can interfere with making a connection?

  17. Stephanie Reynolds/Richard S. Grant

    I found my grandmother Florence Reynolds, in the 1940 Census in Janesville, Rock County WI,on Sheet 63B,line 49, but she was listed as Head of HH of several lodgers, which I knew was not right. Her 3 children were not listed with her, but were listed as part of another HH headed by Harry Shurtleff, on lines 71-73 of the same sheet. Also incorrect. Then I noticed that Florence was listed at 115 Milwaukee St. while the lodgers were listed on Second St. Her children were listed on Milwaukee St (no#)while the Shurtleffs were listed on Second St. Is this a normal way of listing people who may not have been present to verify information or was the Enumerator in over her head?

  18. Monika

    Before the negative bloggers get ahead of themselves: I had not done research on her these last three years, and these two ancestry trees (that did not show up as a leaf on my tree) were created two years ago–plenty of time to show up as a leaf on my tree. Particularly, in view of the fact that sometimes I get a “leaf” for an ancestor where the “leaf” connects me with a person that was not even born in the same century, but merely has the same name!

  19. hurt and mad

    im sorry i added all my information to this site…i have since forgot my password and now ancestry want to charge me for information i gave them. LOL what a joke…….i know its more poor sap who gave up there information too..

  20. Long time user


    Call 1-800-262-3787 (toll free) and they will help you get your password. On the sign-in page there is a place that says, “Forgot your password?” Click there and they will email you back your password. Don’t stay hurt and mad.

  21. Phyllis

    I want to thank everyone that had a part in transcribing the 1940 census. I was excited when the NC state census was completed; however very, very disappointed when I could not find my mother’s family. I giggle to myself for thinking that my grandfather, if he was home that day, and my grandmother knew that she was not to talk to strangers, would give out information to the US Census. The information that I gether from my mother stated that they lived in an old slave house in rural Robeson County, NC. I truly want to believed that the enumator went to their house, but no one answered the door.

  22. Julie

    Just a tip for people having trouble locating someone, if you have the 1940 address of the person you’re looking for try looking at the pages for that street instead of looking by name. It takes a lot longer, but you just might find who you’re looking for. I was searching and searching for my grandmother and couldn’t find her. She’s 84 years old and still remembers her address from back then. I used that to go through all the census images for that street and found her. Whoever the enumerator was mixed up her last name with that of the family who lived next door. If I hadn’t thought to look at the actual images, I never would have found the record.

  23. Michele

    Kirk mentioned a problem with names beginning with “Mc” being difficult to search and I wanted to mention that this is not an isolated problem. If you are looking for a name that begins with Mc you should try it with a space before the rest of the name. I’ve come across a lot of these in the 1940 transcription. The name McCormick is Mc Cormick etc. I also wanted to say that there are many, many transcription errors. I was expecting this one to be so much better than previous transcriptions. This could be avoided in many cases if researchers familiar with certain areas were allowed to check the transcriptions before publication. If you are familiar with the names you are less likely to make the errors I am seeing. If you know where someone lived it’s quicker to look at the actual images and find them that way.

  24. BEE

    I’m having fairly good luck searching by a child’s name and age, especially the youngest child – no surname, and just adding parent’s first names, especially with ethnic names which are very badly transcribed, even when the name is spelled properly on the census, but often times isn’t.

  25. Rina

    When making corrections to mistranscriptions, I’ve found that corrections made on the image page are not always saved, while those made from the index always are. Can this be resolved?

  26. Leanna Veazey

    Ummmm, EVER gonna get the 1940 census drop down box updated????? Didn’t take long to get the initial states added, why is it taking so long to add the remainder?

  27. BEE

    Leanna, I use “Old Search” and followed this advice posted on Aug 3.
    It worked for me, and I haven’t had a problem since. Hope it works for you.

    “If you are not seeing certain states appear on the drop-down menu when utilizing the Old search, press the Control key (CTRL) and F5 key at the same time on your keyboard. This should refresh the page and resolve the issue”.

    • Trevor Thacker

      VeraAndrews29, The coupon pop-up ads you are seeing are not associated with You may have adware installed on your browser that needs to be uninstalled from the browser, which will resolve the issue.

  28. Lucille B Campbell

    Count me as another user who is disappointed in the number of errors. In just one record of a household of 9, I counted 5 errors in names that were easily read. One of then was my father Harold Barrett, indexed as Harold Banett. I indexed for FamilySearch and know how difficult some handwriting was to read, but there really should have been better proofreading on’s end. It’s great to have it done, but I’d rather wait longer and have it right! How will these errors be corrected?

  29. Thanks for the information. See also family trees or to trace your family heritage. The printable trees on are much nicer than most of the websites online.Thanks.

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