Can’t wait to get your hands on the 1940 U.S. census?  Join the club! 

Next April 2, 2012, the National Archives and Records Administration will release the 1940 U.S. census for viewing.  It will be available to the public for FREE at!

Indexes will not be available on April 2, however, so you will need to take extra steps to find your family. 

Why am I telling you about it now when it won’t be available until April?  Because you should take time NOW to determine where your family member lived and what enumeration district they should have been enumerated in.  Then, come April 2, you’ll be ready to actually search for them without wasting precious time.

With the 1940 U.S. census I will conduct descendancy research.  This type of research focuses on the whole family, not just the direct line ancestors.  If is often in following the siblings of an ancestor, that brick walls come tumbling down.   By following descendants in the census records, you may discover years of immigration and naturalization, place of birth, parents’ place of birth, etc.  EVERY clue may lead to other records.

I will search the 1940 U.S. census for living descendants of Wenzel Mueller, specifically his son, Joseph J. Miller.  Joseph was my great-grandmother’s brother.  I have followed his life through earlier censuses and the World War I Draft Registration up until 1939.  I have no death information for him.

Since I won’t have access to an index, here’s how I’ll find Joseph J. Miller in the 1940 U.S. census:

  • Get his address.  In 1939, Joseph J. Miller lived at 4800 Cortland, Detroit, Michigan.   City Directories may be found at   There are many online sites for city directories.  If you want to find your relative in a city directory, Google the city name + city directory + year and see what pops up.
  • Pull up Stephen P. Morse’s online census enumeration tool, “Obtaining EDs [enumeration districts] for the 1940 Census in One Step (Large Cities).”  This tool will help narrow the search to an enumeration district.  To use it, just plug in the state, city, street, and nearby cross streets. (Use or Google Maps to see the cross streets.)  I chose Michigan, Detroit, Cortland Av., Broadstreet Av., and Livernois Ave. The result is Detroit Ward 14 – Tract 168 – Part.
  • Click on “view” to choose the block to search.  Frame 1027 shows all three streets in ED 84-825, Block 22.  That’s where I’ll start my search.
  • Click on the ED link.
  • Search FREE at Starting with ED 84-825, Block 22, I’ll find Cortland Street, look for the address 4800, and he should be there!

Stephen P. Morse has a free online census tutorial to help you!  You may find it at “How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step.”

Using this tool and process, I am pretty sure I will find my Joseph J. Miller.