On April 1st, 2012 the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be released to the public (after the required 72 years privacy restriction expires). Ancestry.com announced yesterday that they will be making the images and index free on their website from mid-April until 2013.
There are other ways to access the 1940 census for free, once it becomes available, but for most Americans this will probably be the easiest way. If you are looking for a lost relative (i.e. you don't know where they lived in 1930) a searchable electronic index may be your only method of locating them.
For more details see the official announcement below.
Thanks to DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog and Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for letting us know about this announcement.
PROVO, UTAH (August 17, 2011) - Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that both the images and indexes to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made free to search, browse, and explore in the United States when this important collection commences streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.
When complete, more than 3.8 million original document images containing 130 million plus records will be available to search by more than 45 fields, including name, gender, race, street address, county and state, and parents’ places of birth. It will be Ancestry.com’s most comprehensively indexed set of historical records to date.
Ancestry.com is committing to make the 1940 Census free from release through to the end of 2013, and by doing so hopes to help more people get started exploring their family history. As this census will be the most recent to be made publicly available, it represents the best chance for those new to family history to make that all-important first discovery.
“The release of the 1940 U.S. Census will be an exciting event for any American interested in learning more about their family history,” said Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan. “By making this hugely important collection free to the public for an extended period, we hope to inspire a whole new generation of Americans to start researching their family history.”
“Ancestry.com is working to make the 1940 Census a truly unique interactive search experience...as well as the starting point to help new users easily get started on the world’s leading online family history resource. After finding that first family connection in the 1940 Census, we believe new users will be able to make amazing discoveries by searching our 7 billion digitized historical records, exploring the 26 million family trees created on Ancestry, and collaborating with our nearly 1.7 million subscribing members. We think that 2012 is going to be a great year of discovery for all family historians.”