Citing the 1940 U. S. Census digital images

You might notice that I have been relatively quiet about the 1940 census release. Nearly every aspect of accessing and indexing the 1940 U. S. Census–released yesterday, 2 April 2012–has been covered extensively.

Now that the images are available, no doubt genealogists around the United States (and probably at least a few other countries) are diving in and looking for their families. So what do you cite once you have found them?

Because images are not yet completely available for all states through every host (and the NARA host site is running particularly slow this morning), I will use the example of a family in Delaware, the only state currently (as of the time of this writing) available on both FamilySearch and Ancestry.com. For this example I am using the image on FamilySearch, but I will address citing the same record on other sites.

I am not personally researching this family, for either myself or any of my clients. I picked it at random from a family then living in the town where I now live. I did also pick this particular household because it lands on line 29, so the supplementary questions also apply.

First, here is the full citation (in Reference Note format):

1940 U. S. Census, Kent County, Delaware, population schedule, 6th Representative District, Harrington City, enumeration district (ED) 1-23, page 247 (stamped), sheet 4A, dwelling 88, G. B. Colman household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 2 April 2012).

Citing a federal census begins with the most general element and moves toward the most specific. In the above example, we start with the record itself (the 1940 Census). The census is organized by county and state, so this is the next element. Then we have the specific schedule we are using. These elements at the beginning are those used by the National Archives in their organization of the census record, so they are key in identifying the specific record.

At the top of each census page are two fields labeled “Township or other division of county” and “Incorporated place.” These divisions must also be noted within the citation. Then we add the enumeration district (ED) number.

Each “sheet” is identified, with either “A” or “B,” but the “A” pages also contain a stamped page number. Both of these should be included where applicable. On the “B” pages, no stamped page number appears, so none need be included in the citation.

One difference between this 1940 census and previous enumerations back to 1850 is that–rather than including two identifying “dwelling” and “family” numbers–this enumeration only identifies households by a single “household” (or “dwelling”) number. We then identify the head of household (or a specific individual within the household) that we are examining.

Note that we have gone from the most general element to the most specific–from the year down to the specific individual.

Next we must include information on the repository holding the records. We separate this section with a semicolon, to show that it is a separate clause.

We first identify that we are using digital images. The 1940 Census, to my knowledge, is not being microfilmed but is only available via the digital images on various websites.

In this case I used the images on FamilySearch, so my citation reflects this fact. We must include the author of the website, the title of the website, the URL, and the date we accessed the record. The same format would be used whether we used the images on FamilySearchAncestry.comMyHeritageArchives.com, or the National Archives and Records Administration’s official 1940 Census site.

In many of these cases, the title of the website is the same as the name of the corporate entity that publishes the website. In these cases, there is no need to repeat the name. For example, we do not have to cite the Ancestry.com site as

Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com […]

but we do have to cite the NARA site as

National Archives and Records Administration, 1940 Census (http://1940census.archives.gov […]

I hope that everyone is having a great time looking for their family members in 1940!

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “Citing the 1940 U. S. Census digital images,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 3 April 2012 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

About these ads

2 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Michael,

    The 1940 US Federal Census was, indeed, microfilmed (probably many years ago) and all the digital images now available are being generated from that microfilm. The films are available from the National Archives as publication T627. There are 4645 rolls.

    Steve

    Reply

    • Thanks, Steve.

      Since writing this I now see the online finding aid where one can determine the roll number for T627, at http://www.archive.gov.

      The real question for our purposes is whether or not this microfilm series served as the actual source of the digital images we are using. I noted that Ancestry.com is citing the publication but not any specific rolls. Despite this, I understood (and the timeline of the release seems to support) that NARA was delivering digital images directly to these vendors. If this is the case, would it be appropriate to cite the microfilm publication?

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,888 other followers

%d bloggers like this: