DEWEYVILLE — Members of the Deweyville and Riverview wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who meet here Sunday will find a poster hanging in their meetinghouse that they’ll find interesting.
The poster will tell them that they now can electronically access information from the 1940 United States Census from Utah and 17 other states.
This will help them as they research the family histories they’ll need to assist them in performing temple ordinances for their deceased relatives.
“Finding ancestors in this past century has been very difficult,” said Beth Snow, who will be making and hanging the poster in the building.
An announcement from a national coalition formed to make the records available stated that the records are now online.
Besides Utah, states available online are, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, New Hampshire, Kansas, Oregon, Louisiana, Delaware, Mississippi, Vermont, Florida, Montana, Virginia and Hawaii. That translates to more than 75 million names from the census now online.
Snow is a family history worker at the Tremonton Family History Library, the family history consultant for the Deweyville ward and a former director of the Family History Center in Florida. She said she has been doing family history work for 57 years.
“We have the Social Security Death Index and some of the states have online death records, but finding relatives has been very difficult because all the records have been made private,” Snow said of the problems in finding this information before now.
“This is so exciting for people that will be able to find aunts and uncles and people they weren’t able to find before.”
Snow said she believes having the Western and Southern states online will benefit many family researchers and “for me personally, I’ve been trying to locate relatives that are here in Utah, so I’m excited about getting them available to Utah.”
The 1940 census electronic records have become available months before officials dared to expect them.
The free, searchable database is available thanks to the coalition of the National Archives and Records Administration, Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, findmypast.com and ProQuest, states a news release from the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project.
The records will also be made available in more than 7,000 public libraries nationwide in the coming months by ProQuest, according to the release.
The national service project, the first and largest of its kind, aims to establish a comprehensive searchable database and make the 1940 U.S. Census records available for free.
“They’ve exceeded our expectations,” said Paul Nauta, a spokesman for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, praising the volunteers who have worked diligently for two months to index the records.
“That’s what’s really cool about this, volunteers from across the U.S. have responded beyond our hopes,” he said.
“We were going to consider ourselves extremely fortunate if we had 100,000 people enlist to help us.
“We’ve had well over 150,000 that have enlisted, and 125,000 are actively involved in making it a success.”
Nauta said the target for having all the census data indexed and available electronically was for the end of the year, but now that date has been moved up significantly.
“We think we will be done late summer, early fall,” Nauta said. “They’ve got us well ahead of schedule. Now, we’re looking ahead of time to find our next attractive cause.”
Nauta said while volunteers are excited about doing the indexing, he and others want to find a worthy cause for them to take over following the census.
He said they have ideas but won’t be announcing them until later in the year.
“It’s fascinating to hear (the volunteers) say why they are doing this,” he said.
“It’s intrinsically fulfilling for them to help with something of such historical significance.”
And Nauta said there’s also an academic benefit to the project, naming university research teams and others who will be able to use the information.
“There will be a lot of people who will find use for the census.”