The National Archives and Records Administration opened the 1940 U.S. Federal Census on April 2, 2012—the first time this collection has been made available to the public. As we receive the census, we will upload census images to our site so the public can browse them. Initially, this collection will be what we call a browse-only collection. This means a person can scroll through the pages of the census districts much like you would look at a microfilm or a book. At the same time, we will be working behind the scenes to create an index of the census that will eventually allow people to search for their family members by name as they currently can with all other censuses on Ancestry.com. Note also that the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be accessible free of charge throughout 2012 on Ancestry.com.
By the way, two key questions people have are:
1. How long will the upload process take?
2. When will my state be ready?
Unfortunately, until we start the process we have no idea exactly how long it will be before all images or a specific state can be uploaded. We like to use this analogy: think about how long it takes to upload all the images on a memory card onto a home computer. Now imagine that memory card holds 3.8 million, very-high-definition images. You get the picture.