I have been sorely remiss about fulfilling my 1940 Blog Ambassador duties, but I have an excuse.....I've been very busy filling that responsibility over at the History Burgoo blog site for KHS. As some of that activity tapers down to a slower pace, and as we all wait for April 2nd, I find myself mulling over some questions and tips that might be helpful as we get towards C-Day (Census Day).
1. Audience: I have been so focused on my genealogy friends and acquaintances, that I had been forgetting about my general friends and family. We all work or live in a world where you know the genealogically receptive people in your sphere, and usually censure your conversations accordingly - while I love to tell non-genealogists stories, I know their eyes will glaze over immediately if I slip into source citation or pedigree recitations. But recently, while attending a family funeral, I was checking myself, and letting the census info fly! It was kind of liberating, but we need to remember that the closer April 2nd gets here, the more we can hype this to our general friends and family! I am now making it a point to use this as a conversation starter regardless of the audience. Hopefully we'll snag some younger folks permanently into the world of genealogy/family history!
2. Questions: As excited as I am about this event, there are many questions that remain:
I'm not concerned about finding my family in the NARA images. I know which family units were rural and therefore easily findable. I also know which family units were young nomads in big cities, so I'm content with waiting on the index for them.
Some of us are concerned about image viewing on the 2nd - will it be able to support all of us? Word from Archives.com is that the system was designed to hold 25,000 viewers at one time. Ok, I guess this will test the volume of genealogy users - take note industry - this could be VERY interesting!
Then, how about the index? I am already signed up and have been indexing regular records as well the 1940 simulation batches to be prepared. But we are still not clear on how the batches will be released for the real 1940 census. On what date will the first batches be ready? Which batches will be ready first? At RootsTech, FamilySearch hinted that larger population states, such as New York would be released first.....but since so many things have changed since then, we're not sure if that is true anymore. If it is, what is the state release schedule going to be like? Also, I've had patrons ask if they can index their county - which would be great since FamilySearch was wanting "community experts" to be involved for the best accuracy possible - but we have not heard if county level batches will be available - somehow I doubt it.
Alternate indexing entities: So we know that Ancestry and MyHeritage are joining in the hype by advertising that they too will have an index. However, they have not revealed how or when this will happen. We know they will not have advance access to the images - they will get them the same time FamilySearch and the rest of the gang gets them to start our volunteer indexing projects. So who will index for Ancestry and MyHeritage? Since they have not called for volunteers and did not join up with the group that will be coordinating the massive nation-wide indexing project, I'm very curious as to how they will get this done, and who will be doing their indexing. FamilySearch advertised that they want community experts to volunteer so the interpretation of writing/surnames can be the most accurate. Yet, Ancestry and MyHeritage are not asking for any such thing. MyHeritage has even advertised that they will guarantee a 98% accuracy rate. Hmmmm, exactly how will that be achieved? As a company whose headquarters is across the ocean - I hope they will not be using non-US folks to do the indexing. The same goes for Ancestry - I hope these two companies are not planning on outsourcing their indexing just to get it done faster. I really think both companies should put out some disclosure on this aspect of their indexing model. Either way, I know who will be indexing through the community project - good ole local Americans who look at these records or hear these surnames everyday - which is why - the only index I'm going to trust once finished is the collaborative edition that we have all worked on together! (the1940census.com)
3. Homework: And so, I am still sorely behind on gathering my addresses for the people I want to find. I am not concerned about the rural farmers who lived in the same area for decades - they will be right where I left them in the 1930 census. But, since it is important to take a family inventory of who would have been alive in 1940, and narrow down our location to have the enumeration district numbers ready for April 2nd.....here are just a few of the people I will be looking for, and the challenges associated with each.
Uncle Myron and Aunt Anna Beyersdoerfer (brother and sister) - due to the questions raised by this photo in 1935, I will be VERY interested in their incomes listed and residences in 1935 versus 1940. Anna may be hard to find since she was listed in a few different residences in Cincinnati at the time - but I will find her eventually. For more info about why I am curious, see one of my earliest blog posts: Looking at Anna.
The Pace siblings: Nomadic group of brothers and sisters who did travel quite a bit in the Ohio and Kentucky areas due to work circumstances. Also, sisters all married, so need to find all the surnames, etc. This group alone will take some digging to have all of my info ready for searching each one.
The Pace childrens' Mama: Fannie Pace Cottle. I know roughly where she was living, but some of the supplemental answers on the Census will give me significant information about a woman I never had the pleasure of meeting.
My Paternal Grandparents: Charles and Bessie Daniels. Still living in the heart of downtown Cincinnati for 1940, but I need to ask my Dad where he thinks they were living at the time, because this side of the family, despite having moved around a lot over the years, still had this uncanny ability to point out every little spot they ever resided to proudly pass on that info to the next generation.
Speaking of Dad: He was born in 1939, so I think he would have looked just like this when the Census was taken :-)
Maternal Grandparents: Roy and Freida Watts: The boys in the middle here were not yet born, but the parents were fairly young newlyweds in 1940, possibly still living in Covington, since they hadn't fulfilled Pappa's dream of farm ownership until after the War. They might prove to be a bit elusive.
Maternal Great Grandparents: John & Nellie Beyersdoerfer. On their Pendleton County farm in 1940 with probably only a couple of their kids still in the house.....but since "Ma" was known for feeding homeless ("hobos") men from the back porch during the depression, I will be interested to see what kind of income level a small family farm would have been bringing in at the time.
Anyway, these are the groups I'll be starting with - get busy everyone - it's almost here!
CHere's a bit of fun from the Stooges as they take the 1940 Census :-) The first few minutes are priceless....."Are you married or happy?"