The 1940 census records were released by the US National Archives today, April 2, 2012, and immediately made available online through a partnership with Archives.com. This website allows full access to the 1940 census images, in addition to 1940 census maps and descriptions.
Since these 1940 census records were released today, longtime City Islander Russ Schaller can now consider himself an integral part of US living history.
In his 88th year, will get to experience the novelty of seeing his own name and details about his life in the records being released by the U.S. National Archives online after 72 years of confidentiality expires. Russ tells City Island Images that he was living on City Island with his family at 169 Ditmars Street.
Russ says "I'd be happy to see it this information."
Schaller is one of more than 20 million people alive in the U.S. who were counted in the 16th federal decennial census, which documents the tumultuous decade of the 1930s transformed by the Great Depression and black migration from the rural South. It's a distinction he shares with such living celebrities as Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.
Mr. Schaller is a retired US Air-corps sergeant, a popular and accomplished cartoonist and the President of City Island's Historical Society, so census records are essential for any genealogical work performed by this organization.
But census records, which include names, addresses and - in the case of the 1940 census, income and employment information - are rich with long-veiled personal details.
While a name index will not be immediately available to search, tens of thousands of researchers across the country are expected to go on a monumental genealogical hunt this week through the digitized records for details on 132 million people. Access to the records will be free and open to anyone on the Internet.
Every decade since 1942, the National Archives has made available records from past censuses. Some privacy advocates have opposed releasing such large amounts of personal information about living people.
Russ says his father's name was Adam and joked that his mother was Eve, but then set the record straight, "her name was Barbara". He adds that every family should be interested enough to follow their own history.