Unless you've been under a rock for a few months, you know that the 1940 US Census has now been released. What you may not realize is that unlike all of the other censuses that are available, the 1940 does not yet have a searchable index. To be fair, neither did the others when they were released.
What this means is that finding your people is not an easy task. You need to either spend huge amounts of time downloading and browsing the image files, or, if you know exactly where your people lived, you can try to figure out what Enumeration District they lived in, and narrow your search using that to grab just the images of those districts you need.
Why aren't there indexes? Well, the images were just released, so they haven't been available to anyone to be indexed. Fortunately, there are a bunch of rather enthusiastic volunteers out there who have already started creating the indexes, through at least three separate efforts. It's been estimated that indexing should be complete by the end of this year, but I think that may be a pessimistic estimate. At least one of the sites already has at least one state finished, plus parts of many others. I'd be surprised if they hadn't finished indexing by the end of summer.
You know how it could go faster? You could volunteer to do some indexing! There is a utility that makes it a snap to download, index and return the data. In fact, I've already done my first batch, a page of 40 records from Minnesota. By default, the utility grabs a preferred packet from one of the states they are focusing on first, but you can choose to get data from another state, for instance, one you have a whole bunch of people in...
Start by visiting https://the1940census.com/ and download the indexing software. There are lots of sources of helpful information to get you going, including a bunch of free Webinars over at Rootsmagic.com presented by DearMyrtle herself.
This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman