One of the most important reasons I like to keep my records in a genealogy software program (Legacy Family Tree) on my computer is the ability to run specialized reports. For instance, I can run a report that will list everyone born in Medina County, Ohio after 1900, or generate a list of people who died in Michigan before 1920. The most recent report I've run for myself and my clients is a list of those people who were born before 1940 and died after 1940.
My own list of 577 names (out of a database of 3400) includes both sets of grandparents: my maternal grandfather Arnold A. Stoelt and his second wife Ervilla, living at 14883 Faust St. in Detroit, and my paternal grandparents Maurice and Ruby Reed, living at 1030 E. St. Joseph St. in Lansing. I imagine that both these families were grateful to have made it through the Great Depression with steady employment - Arnold Stoelt was a printer at the Detroit Free Press, and Ervilla taught high school English, while Maurice Reed was a truant officer for the Lansing Public Schools.
Since it will be released digitally with images only, there won't be a searchable index for several months. I am fortunate that I know where both sets of my grandparents lived in 1940, and I can determine the Enumeration Districts (ED) to look at.
To do that, I used Steven Morse's website on obtaining Enumeration Districts for large cities: http://www.stevemorse.org/census/. I selected the state (Michigan), the city (Detroit), and then selected the street (Faust). It gave me a list of 17 ED's, but I can narrow it down further by selecting the nearest street that crosses Faust. I looked it up on Google Maps, and found that the nearest street was Chalfonte. That narrows the possible ED's down to 2 - a much smaller target!
My great grandparents Percy and Mary Reed, however, lived in Beulah, a tiny village on the shores of Crystal Lake, in northwest Michigan. In order to determine their ED, I used Steven Morse's conversion tool, which converts the 1930 ED to the ED used for the 1940 census, here. Their 1930 ED was 10-3, and using the conversion tool I can see that I need to look at ED 10-3 and 10-4 in 1940. However, I can narrow it down further by looking at the 1940 ED map of Beulah, using the 1940 ED map finder, here.
My great grandfather Henry Hickox Chase, in 1940, was a resident of the Traverse City State Hospital, having been diagnosed with a form of dementia in 1936. It took me a combination of Google Earth, Wikipedia, and a private website to determine that the hospital was (more or less) at the cross streets of Elmwood and 11th in Traverse City. The ED here is 28-17.
My great great grandfather Stacy Clay Thompson was living in Manistee, Michigan, with his second wife Marian. His address on the 1930 census was 214 Arthur Street, and on the 1940 census I will want to look at ED's 51-9 and 51-10.
For my clients, I will be looking at ED's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Montgomery County, North Carolina, Seattle, Washington, Mercer County, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and various small towns in Minnesota.
I can tell I'm going to be busy, come April 2. Who will you be looking for on the 1940 census?