UPDATE: As of June 28 the 1940 Nebraska Census records are searchable!
On April 2, 2012 the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration made the 1940 census available free online to the public. This is the first time the 1940 census can be made available because of what is referred to as the "72-year rule". This rule basically states that the U.S. government cannot release personally identifiable information about a person until 72 years after it’s been collected.
One important thing to know about the 1940 census is that a name index is not currently available. This means you are not able to search the census by a person's name. There is an effort under way to index the census but it is not known how long this may take. In order to find someone in the census, you will need to know his or her address and then locate the census enumeration district in which that address was located. An enumeration district (ED) is the area that a single enumerator (census taker) could cover in one census period. Enumeration districts varied in size from several city blocks in densely populated urban areas to an entire county in sparsely populated rural areas. After you have identified the ED you can browse that section of the census.
If you do not know where the person you are researching lived in 1940 it may be a bit of challenge locating them in the census. Two source of addresses are the 1940 city directories and phonebooks. Many libraries and historical societies may own paper copies of these items. In the hopes of making it simpler for folks to locate individuals who lived in Nebraska, the Nebraska Library Commission is working with Nebraska institutions to digitize the white page portions of 1940 Nebraska phonebooks and make them available online.
More Nebraska genealogy resources, including a list of historical organizations in Nebraska, can be found on this website: Genealogy Sources for Nebraska .
Getting Started with the 1940 Census
- Detailed instructions can be found on the 1940 census website.
- Blank 1940’s census forms - Sometimes it can be difficult to read the column headings on the actual census. The blank forms are easy to read.
- Questions Asked on the 1940 Census
- List of Symbols and Explanatory Notes used in the census.
- 1940 Nebraska White Pages