This "news" has been mentioned in previous newsletter articles but I discovered last week at the FGS conference that not everyone has "received the word." Therefore, I'll repeat the news in an attempt to tell even more people.
The 1940 U.S. census records will be released by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration on April 2, 2012. That's less than seven months from now. Best of all, the more than 3.8 million original document images containing 130 million-plus records will be available to everyone free of charge.
To be sure, not everything will be available on April 2. Not only are the records unavailable to genealogists prior to April 2, those records are also unavailable to indexers and unavailable to the companies that host the records online. EVERYONE gains access on April 2. The companies involved in making the records available online will require several months to digitize and index the records and then to make them available online.
I would look for the records to become available online within days but without indexes. The indexes will probably be added around June or July. If you are looking for ancestors in any town or city of significant size, you will want the indexes.
Ancestry.com has already pledged to make the 1940 census records available online free of charge through the end of 2013. One will be able to search more than 45 fields, including name, gender, race, street address, county and state, and parents’ places of birth.
Other online sites also will offer the same records online, although with different indexes and with different search criteria. FamilySearch will have the records available free of charge forever.
Having different indexes is a great benefit as errors are common in all indexes. Having two or more versions of the records available makes it easy to compare one version agains the other version(s), greatly increasing the probability of finding the information you seek.
You can find more information about the release of the 1940 census on the National Archives and Records Administration's website at www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/index.html
You can also find 1940 census Enumeration Districts, a census street finder, and more at Steve Morse's One-Step Genealogy site at http://stevemorse.org/