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Join the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project

May 16, 2012

By Layne Sawyer

On April 2, 2012, the National Archives (NARA) released the digital images of the 1940 United States Federal Census. These census images were uploaded and made available as free digital images on,, National Archives, ProQuest, and

Upon its release, the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, a joint initiative between, FamilySearch,, and other genealogy societies, archives and organizations across the nation began coordinating efforts to provide quick access to these digital images and immediately started indexing these records to make them searchable online. This monumental grass-roots effort will put one of the richest genealogical data sets in the world online, complete and free of charge forever.

More than 10,000 volunteers nationwide have been working on the project since the images were released. Volunteers have indexed more than 45 million records and this number continues to grow. As of May 9, 2012, six states – Oregon, Delaware, Colorado, Kansas, Virginia, and New Hampshire – were completely indexed and searchable by name, location and family relations. The project will release searchable records for individual states on an ongoing basis with an aim to make the entire 1940 census searchable by the end of 2012.

There are many people still alive today who will be able to find themselves in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. Others will be able to readily connect with relatives they knew personally or through family stories.

If you would like to volunteer to index go to the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project and register to participate. You may choose to participate under the partnership of one of several genealogical/historical societies in the state that are participating in this effort. Go to  to see what organizations in Oregon are partnering in this community effort.

Layne Sawyer is the Manager of Reference Services with the Oregon State Archives. The Oregon State Archives works to provide access to records in our holdings and preserve the permanently valuable records of Oregon.

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