Everyone seems to agree that the images of the 1940 US Census will be released on April 2, 2012. This event has been long awaited by genealogists and other social historians. Exactly when on April 2 NARA will release them has been has been debated by those wishing to begin exploring this national information treasure at the earliest possible moment.
There has been some confusion among the genealogical community about when that "earliest possible moment" will come. When NARA posted the first version of its countdown clock last year, it seemed to count down to noon Eastern time. More recently rumors circulated that the magic hour would be midnight. As of today NARA states on its FAQ page:
Q. When will the 1940 census be available to the public?
A. The 1940 census population schedules will be available for research on April 2, 2012, at 9:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time).
This should end the confusion. But maybe not. As part of a recently designed and wonderful web resource the countdown clock seems to be closing in on 9:00 AM (Eastern STANDARD TIME).
This may not seem to be a difference of much consequence. However, for organizations planning tie-in events, timing is very important. One such event is being planned at the Midwest Genealogy Center. It is being called Ready! Set! Go! 1940 Census! Some had been planning overnight "lock-in" events to take advantage of the anticipated Midnight Eastern Time release. Countdown widget across the Web continue to reflect confusion about when the images will be released. Most of these have been created by third parties and are not under the control of NARA. However the countdown clock and FAQ page are. Are they really out of sync or am I imagining this. NARA, 1-Step, Ancestry, FamilySearch, Archives.com, many libraries and other organizations have created a vast and rich array of tools to help us get ready to explore this window into our family stories. Are you ready to research yours?