This should be a great tool for anyone searching for New York City residents in the 1940 census: the New York Public Library has created a new research tool to help track down past city residents through old telephone directories. The 1940 New York City telephone directories are now available online.
The biggest immediate use undoubtedly is for searching the newly-released 1940 U.S. census. While census images are now available, the records are not yet indexed by name. You cannot simply enter a name and view the record. Instead, you first must find the census Enumeration District. Perhaps the easiest way to accomplish that is to first search for the name in the phone books on the library's website and find a corresponding address. That address then can be converted to an Enumeration District number by using Steve Morse's "One Step" web site. Instructions may be found at http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php.
Then go to the 1940 census web site, enter the Enumeration District number and view the records. You may have to manually page through a number of records until you find the entry you seek. However, that is much easier than manually searching all of New York City!
You can access the new online 1940 New York City telephone directories at http://NYPL.org or at http://directme.nypl.org/
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