“The 1940 Census release is the most significant record to be made available to genealogists since 2002 with the release of the 1930 Census. This Census is an economic snapshot of the Great Depression, and a fascinating look at the United States on the eve of World War II.” — State Librarian, Caroline (Cal) Shephard, State Library of North Carolina.
The 1940 census was officially released by the National Archives on April 2, 2012. Unlike the release of previous census records on microfilm (you purchased in advance and it was shipped out on the day of release), this was the first census that was “made available as free digital images” at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (http://1940census.archives.gov/). The Nebraska 1940 census index is now available online at https://familysearch.org/1940census/1940-census-nebraska/
The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project is a joint initiative between NARA, Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, findmypast.com, ProQuest (HeritageQuest) and other leading genealogy organizations. Presently, the images for the entire 1940 census are browsable on the Project sites linked in the previous sentence and they are updating continually the availability of indexed states. These partners of NARA have enlisted a community of volunteers to index the census and thereby make a “free index of the census records and corresponding images“ that “will be available to the public for perpetuity.” Ancestry.com is indexing the 1940 census, but they have hired commercial keying vendors to index the census.
The Nebraska History Library (NSHS) has 1940 Nebraska city directories and phone books (if they exist) for communities in Nebraska. These publications can help assist you in your research in the census by verifying street addresses for your ancestors who lived in larger communities in the state. The Nebraska Library Commission is posting online 1940 Nebraska White Pages from Nebraska phone books.
Frequently Asked Questions About the 1940 Census has been posted on the NARA website. We will be posting to our website some general information about using and locating the 1940 census online for Nebraska that will direct you to the sites listed in this blog as well as additional information as it becomes available (including when the index for Nebraska is completed). The Nebraska Library Commission has a web page devoted to the 1940 census that includes a link to another web page on their site titled Genealogy Sources for Nebraska. You might also want to review other genealogical sources that the NSHS Library/Archives has available that might assist you in your 1940 census research that are listed in A Guide to Genealogical Research at the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Even if you have been researching your Nebraska family for a number of years and personally feel that there is no new information this census could possibly give you, take the time to locate your family members in this census. I didn’t think there would be anything new about my family members, and I am now trying to resolve a question about my aunt on the census that I was not aware of previously. (Updated June 28, 2012) — By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator