I've been spending the last few days getting ready for Monday morning. (If you're asking yourself "What's Monday morning?" then you haven't been following me very closely. Come on, stay with me people!)
For those of you who were sleeping in class and missed the announcement: the 72 year waiting period is almost over, and on Monday morning, April 2nd, the 1940 U.S. census images will be released. This is GINORMOUS for us genealogy-minded people, and we're as giddy as Nascar fans on race day. Or like kids in a candy store. Or an Ohio State fan on game day against Michigan (Go Buckeyes!) Whatever comparison you choose, you get the idea. Family history fanatics nation-wide will be sitting poised at their computers on Monday morning at 9:00 am ready to begin our search for our next decade of ancestors. Some will be sneaking peeks while at work (I promise I won't tell!) and some - like me - have already given fair warning to the needy people in our homes that laundry will not be done that day, and dinner may very well be pizza from the delivery guy. (I've even turned down an offer to go shopping that day!! WHAT??)
Now that we're all caught up and on the same page...it's time for some last minute prep work. There will be no index available to simply pop in our ancestor's names and TA-DA...There they are! Sorry, that won't work for 1940. It's going to take a little bit of effort, which is always good practice for any genea-crazed person. (I think it keeps us humble.)
I have my main "cast of characters" that I will be looking for -those family members who are closest to me that would have appeared in 1940. A sampling of my list goes something like this:
Name: Herman Allen (my great-great grandfather)
Date of Birth: 7 Jan 1878
Date of Death: 24 Feb 1962
1930 State: Illinois
1930 County: Effingham
1930 Twp/City: Mason
1942 WWII Draft Registration: Edgewood, Effingham Co., Illinois.
1940 Enumeration District Possibilities:
25-19 (Village of Edgewood)
25-20 (Village of Mason)
25-21 (Outside both villages)
That last section - the Enumeration Districts - those were just recently added a few days ago once I was informed that I would need them to be able to search the census. Most of my peeps are farmers who lived out in the middle of their farmland and without specific addresses. In researching the appropriate E.D., I've discovered that each township in these cases is usually it's own District. If your ancestor resided in a city, however, that is a bit more determined of a task to locate the specific Enumeration District. But no worries! It's an easy thing to do:
Steve Morse Unified 1940 Census ED Finder
(Trust me, it's self-explanatory. Just follow the link!)
So now that I've gathered the names and info of those I'm considering a MUST discovery for 1940, there was a little voice in my brain that was nagging..."What about everyone else?" Sure I have my 15 or so names, but what about the others...the siblings of my direct ancestors. You know - all of the aunts,uncles, and cousins...how could I get them all without having to look at each individual name in my database to see if they were alive in 1940?
Thank you Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com! I happened across a brief video lesson that she was doing on getting ready for the 1940 census, and she had a fantastic idea - use my genealogy software to filter out the appropriate dates and names of those who would be alive and therefore worthy of a search in 1940.
A little glitch...Her example uses Family Tree Maker(FTM), and I have Personal Ancestral File (PAF). No biggie since mine filters too, right? Yes...just a little differently. Where Crista speaks of filtering in and filtering out in FTM those who were born before 1940, after 1840, and those who died before 1940 - all for the sake of narrowing down our databases to the names that are relevant to our search, PAF is slightly different. I had to select those individuals with birthdates greater than/less than the whole 1840-1940 range thing, and figure out the correct death formula, as it wanted to give me all individuals who have since died but then it was missing those who are still living. That wouldn't work! After playing with it a few times, I think I managed to successfully pull a list of everyone in my database who could possibly be on the 1940 census.
PAF users, if you know an easier way to work this, please let me know - but this is my "filtering formula":
Birthdate is less than 1941
Birthdate is greater than 1840 (These two together give me individuals who were born anytime between 1840 and 1940, a nice 100 year lifespan)
Deathdate is greater than 1940 (Keeps the older individuals in the list who were still living in 1940)
Deathdate does not exist. (Includes those individuals, mostly the young'uns in 1940, who are still alive today)
I'm sure I could thin my list out even more, but at present, I'm just happy to have figured this path out. Formulas were never my thing in High School.
Now I have my primary list and my "got nothing else to do, let's try to find great-great aunt Elsie in the Census" list.
Who's on your list??