This has been a very exciting week in the genealogy community with the release of the 1940 census. It's still a little early for you to be able to search for your ancestors by name, websites are working to get states up with a searchable name index asap. For now, I've had the best results using the Enumeration District information with the National Archives. Want to learn how?
Search By Location
Do you know the street where the person you are looking for lived in 1940? If so, you can search by location. Simply enter their State, County, City, and Street. If it's a long street split into numerous districts, you will have the ability to enter a cross street to narrow your search results. What you'll get after you search is 1 or more census schedules that street can be found in. If you're looking at a residential street in a smaller city, the better you're chances you'll only have 1 census schedule to search through. The longer the street, the bigger the city= more census schedule results.
Search by Enumeration District
If you have the 1930 census record of the person you are searching for in 1940, pull up their census page and in the upper right hand corner you will find their Enumeration District. The National Archives has this great tool that will figure out the 1940 Enumeration District from the 1930 Enumeration District you entered. So easy! Same thing as before, you might wind up with a few different census schedules to search through. I really didn't have much trouble with this issue though. If you are using the 1930 district number, don't forget to click on the 1930 tab!
Here I searched with the 1930 Enumeration District from East Orange, New Jersey 7-402. My result is a corresponding 1940 map of the district, 2 census schedule descriptions, and 2 census schedules.
The map will show me a map of the city of East Orange in 1940. The descriptions will detail the boundaries of each census schedule. The census schedules are the actual pages of the census where I might find my family! What I usually do is open a new tab with the street address of the house I am searching for. I then click on the census schedule and start checking the addresses from the census to the map of my address. I then kind of walk with the census taker, going page by page through the census schedule, checking the streets they hit to and follow their path to my intended street.
Remember, they will sometimes do blocks and jump from street to street or work only on one side of the street. So don't be worried if you see the street you're looking for but not your house number. Keep going! They will come back to it. And don't be intimidate when it says 38 pages or something like that, it goes surprisingly quick! When I find the house and family I'm looking for it feels SO good! You feel like a detective who just solved a mystery.
Where do I see the street/address on a census?
Just in case you're not quite sure where you find the street and address on a census. Look on the left hand side of the census and you'll see the street name written vertically in the left hand column. If you don't see the street name written, you might want to check the pages surrounding your page to find it. Sometimes if it's a long street they don't write it on every single page.
Good Luck!!! And if you don't know where your family lived in 1930 or 1940, just give it a little time and you'll be able to search for them by name in the 1940 census.
Questions? Comments? Happy Friday!!!