The 1940 Census Is Finally Here

The most recent federal census available to the public is the 1940 census. The long-awaited census was released this past April, and it was a cause for celebration by amateur as well as professional genealogists.

According to the National Archives, the 1940 census is made up of 3.8 million images scanned from more than 4,000 rolls of microfilm.

By law, the personal information recorded in a federal census is kept secret for 72 years — for privacy reasons — and then it’s released to the public. Prior to the April 2012 release of the 1940 census, the last new U.S. Census report was made available in 2002. It was the 1930 census. The 1950 census is due for release in 2022.

As reported on, 132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940. (Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, only seven months before Hawaii became the 50th state.)

The 1940 census counted 37.2 million housing units. In fact, it had the first tabulation of housing information. Census takers gathered answers to 31 housing-related questions, including residents’ principal refrigeration equipment and whether they had items such as a radio, running water, toilets that flushed, and outhouses.



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