Today the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released images of the 1940 Census, and a project is already underway to ensure that the information becomes easily available to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the Great Depression. The NARA has teamed up with leading genealogy groups like Archives.com and FamilySearch.org to create what's being described as a "high quality, searchable database" of the more than one million pages contained in the Census. You can already browse through the Census images, but the process is cumbersome — for instance, you can't search by a person's name, but instead can only browse by location or enumeration district.
But with a team of online volunteers, the 1940 US Census Community Project is hoping to change that by indexing all of the information so that it can be searched for free. This particular Census has attracted the attention of the group not only because of the historical events that took place — from World War II to the Great Depression — but also because the Census is the "largest, most comprehensive, and most recent record set" from the period. The index is expected to be ready by the end of this year, and if you want to lend a hand you can volunteer at the1940census.com.