7 Ways to Experience the 1940 Census

The Census Bureau released the 1940 Census on Monday, following the rule that makes the census available for public inspection 72 years after it is completed.

This release is special, though, as it is the first time a Census is being made public in a digital format. With that the Census Bureau has done a number of different things with the data itself and produced a handful of projects with it that are collected below.



The bureau created a website at Users will be able to search, browse and download the 1940 census schedules, free of charge, from their own computers or from the public computers at National Archives locations nationwide.

The National Archives has teamed up with the U.S. Census Bureau to celebrate “40 Days to the ’40 Census.” Using social media channels to post videos, images, facts and links to workshops nationwide, the National Archives is getting its researchers ready for the online launch.


The Census Bureau produced a video highlighting the bureau’s work in digitizing the records. For the release of the 1940 census online, the National Archives has creating more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps and enumeration district descriptions.


Uncle Sam Yourself!

The site features an “Uncle Sam Yourself!” app where users can download their own picture into a historic 1940s Uncle Sam ad and then share with friends through social media.


Data Visualization

Another feature is a data visualization chart showing the population change and movement between 1930 and 1940. That decade saw a tremendous amount of change thanks to the Great Depression when the country’s population growth slowed to the lowest levels in history. The map also shows population changes, showing how large cities such as New York continued to grow, but also places like Southern California.

County population change from 1930 to 1940



In conjunction with the release, the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce are writing about how life was for various federal agencies including NIST and the National Weather Service.


The Census Bureau released an infographic comparing population data of 1940 with that of 2010, the most recent year of the census. Contrary to thinking, the Census Bureau actually asked more questions of people in 1940 including more detailed financial information. The data is compared in different ways throughout the infographic.

1940-2010 State by State: Key Comparisons Between the Years infographic

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