Wednesday, May 16, 2012

1940 Census Update for 16 May 2012

FamilySearch indexing status as of 16 May 2012Bad News

Images for the 1940 census were digitized from microfilm, according to Miriam Kleiman, public affairs specialist for the US National Archives. “There were many images on the microfilm that were filmed out of focus,” she said. The filming was done in the 1940s or early 1950s.

“After the microfilming was completed,” said Kleiman, “the original documents were destroyed.”

Kleiman pointed out that it was the Bureau of the Census that did the filming and destroyed the records. (Don’t flame the National Archives.)

MyHeritage Correction

Last week I reported that MyHeritage had published the index for New York, putting them at 10.51% indexed. An alert reader reported that “it appears that only Albany and Allegany counties are fully indexed and a few other counties are partially indexed.” A source inside MyHeritage confirmed that New York was not complete. (In the future I’ll have to assume that posted states are not complete.)

Race Status

Applying that correction, the race status for completed, published states is shown here. There have been no changes since FamilySearch released a bunch of states for the NGS conference.

  • – 0.82%
  • FamilySearch, et. al. – 5.4%
  • MyHeritage – 0.81%

Indexing Status

Since my last update on 6 May 2012, the completion percentage has grown from 28.1% to 37.3%.

Florida has bounced back to 100%. Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana have hit 100%.

Also at 100% but not published are: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Could it be that FamilySearch is not able to keep up with its own indexers? Is this list fated to grow throughout the project?

Stay tuned…


  1. Could the out-of-focus images be made readable through digital enhancement?

  2. Jay,

    That is an excellent observation. There is a discipline called "digital signal processing" that can do a certain amount of correction. The effect of the out-of-focus lens is modeled mathematically. (Technically it is called "the transfer function.") The effect of an in-focus lens is also modeled. Used together, the two can reconstruct an in-focus image.

    As applied to astronomy telescopes, the process is called adaptive optics.

    I have no experience in this arena besides the theory, but I imagine precisely modeling the first lens is difficult and can vary for each image. I am unaware of any commercially available program that will do this for ordinary consumers.

    --The Insider

  3. Do we know how many of the records are out of focus?

  4. I was thinking that ancestry or family search might be able to enhance them. Having a better image would increase their business or hits.


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