The 1940 US Census Is Indexed

In the race to finish indexing the 1940 US Census, Ancestry has won. It was announced today that they have completed their index.

FamilySearch is still at 99%, with most remaining states at 100% and just awaiting arbitration or uploading.

I have seen other people blog about the inaccuracies in both indexes. From what I’ve read, even with the double entry, FamilySearch still has some errors. The biggest difference is that, if you can find an error in Ancestry, you can send in a correction (but you still have to find it). FamilySearch still has no way to submit corrections (but I think they’re working on that).

So if you haven’t found all of your people yet in the census, maybe it’s about time for you to give it a try. If you have trouble finding people, try to remember the usual search tricks: use wild cards, try to imagine the name written messy and how someone else might interpret the letters, imagine it spoken with an accent and how someone unfamiliar with the name and the accent might write it, use more details or fewer, leave surname or given name blank and fill in other fields.

And check on both sites if you’re still having trouble, because the indexes are different. Remember, FamilySearch will be at 100% any day now, so if you still need a state that’s not finished there, and you’re having trouble finding your people on Ancestry, it won’t be long until you have that other option.


A few hours after publishing this article, FamilySearch announced that their census index was completed. Just before 2pm, the last batch was arbitrated. With 160,000 volunteers, the indexing was completed in 124 days, two months ahead of what they originally predicted. Of course, they still have some behind-the-scenes things to do before the last states are online, so it will be a few more weeks until they’re all searchable on that site. But there you go. Both major indexing projects completed on the same day!

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