When the 1940 U.S. census was released to the public on April 2, 2012 it was anticipated that the 3.8 million images containing about 131 million names would not be indexed until much later this year. Last week while I attended the BYU Genealogy Conference, both Ancestry and FamilySearch announced the completion of the index. Time for another genealogy happy dance!
While the entire index is now available at Ancestry, the last of the index will be published in the next couple of weeks at FamilySearch. Both are free. FamilySearch had more than 150,000 volunteer indexers to complete the task. Since both organizations employed different methods of indexing the records, the question has to be asked - which is more accurate? Randy Seaver in his article, "1940 U.S. Census Comparisons - Summary and Conclusions" described his study of the two indexes. In most cases, of his small sample, FamilySearch had better accuracy. In fact, he concluded that FamilySearch had a 12% error rate compared to Ancestry's 23% error rate. I guess I'd prefer a 0% error rate, but there are numerous variables involved in indexing historical records such as these. Thanks to all the volunteers who made this possible so quickly!
1940 Census webinars
To learn more about the 1940 census, view our two webinars:
- Navigating the New Census Tools in Legacy Family Tree by Geoff Rasmussen
- Navigating the 1940 U.S. census by Thomas MacEntee