Tuesday, April 3, 2012

1940 Census - A New Toy for Genealogists

Are you having fun yet? Yesterday was a banner day for the field of genealogy. If you were not doing something with the newly released 1940 Census records, you missed out on a celebrated event. With the release of the records at archives.com of the entire census in the morning their website could hardly keep up.

Later in the day they posted: Due to extraordinary demand, this website is undergoing updates to better accommodate users. While these changes take place, you can still use many of the useful features built into this website (search for enumeration districts, bookmark results, etc). We appreciate your patience, as enhancements are underway!

Today they posted: Thank you for your patience as we continue to address issues with the 1940 census web site. We have implemented changes so you can now view and download the census images. We are continuing to work on the site and expect to make further enhancements during the day on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Another comment found on Dick Eastman's daily mail in the evening of April 2nd was: The official 1940 Census Web is hosted by Archives.com. This evening, the company posted a status update on the company blog. My favorite phrase in the article is the title: "We Expected A Flood And Got A Tsunami!"

I am still having trouble downloading and printing on their website, but it is the only place to get all of the census schedules. There still seem to be some towns within the States and Counties that are not coming up or are embedded in other towns. I am not sure the reason for that. Overall I have searched multiple pages for some people, with varying degrees of success.

With these problems manifesting on archives.com, I turned to familysearch.org for the five states that they have available. These included Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Oregon, Virginia on April 2nd and added Florida this morning. Once I figured out that the best way to print was to download the census page to my computer, I was extremely happy. One of my focus states is Oregon, so I set off to find my father and his parents Carl and Zella Olsen. They lived on St. Helens Road in Linnton, Multnomah County. This turned out to be a fairly straightforward search, except they are listed in the town of Portland.

My grandmother, Zella, was the informant. They lived in this same place in 1935. My grandfather worked as the operator (running the plant) of Gasco, the public utility. He had four years of college and my grandmother had two years of college. My father, the youngest of three did not attend school, but his brothers did. They had one lodger living in their home by the name of Claire McRoberts. Without an index the family of Claire McRoberts might not ever locate him in this census.

My second search in Oregon was in Sherwood, Washington County for the mother of Carl, Julia Brown Olsen Carson, who had remarried to Frank Carson sometime after 1935. From the study of the Sherwood Post Office Ledgers, I know she was still using the name of Julia Olsen in 1935. From this census it indicates that in 1935 Julia was living in the same place as her granddaughter Julia, but Frank was living somewhere else in Washington County. A very interesting note is that Frank provided the information to the enumerator and Julia died twenty-five days after the census was taken.

Found in the Sherwood census schedules are Rudolf (Rudolph for the family) Olsen (Carl's brother), his wife Esther and their daughter Mariruth age four. I am very anxious to share this record with Mariruth as we have lunch together regularly. He is noted as a general manager of a Transit Company. Today there is a dedicated small park with his gas pump still on a corner in the town of Sherwood.
The cousin of Zella Straw Olsen, Annie Sherk, is on this same Sherwood page. Albert and Annie Sherk's home is where Carl and Zella had their wedding celebration, having met in church in Sherwood in about 1925.

I located my father and his parents, but my mother and her parents eluded me in the search. My other great grandmother was found today in Nebraska on archives.com, living next to her daughter and her family. My two great grandfathers were also elusive. For them I will need to use an index. For now I have decided to focus on working as an indexer to assist in increasing the possibility of finding those who are hiding like a needle in a haystack. Last night I indexed for an hour and did two pages, or eighty names. It will take many volunteers to move along the indexing process. Today a reporter of the local newspaper contacted me wanting insight into the importance of the 1940 census and indexing. My hope is that as people come to understand the importance of these records and an index for them, they will be motivated to volunteer some of their time.

Please sign up and begin indexing today. You can choose what project to work on, but the focus for now is on the 1940 Census and whatever state is of interest to the individual. Go to familysearchindexing.org. and give it a try.

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