Casefile Clues

04 April 2012

Getting That Roll Number to Complete the 1940 Census Citation

There's been an interesting discussion about 1940 census citations on the Association of Professional Genealogists email list that I won't get into here. But that got me to thinking about the roll numbers and the problem I had getting them the first time I needed them.

Regardless of what details you think are elemental to a citation, a microfilm roll number is a part of that citation. There's not much debate about that...even though most of us never touch a roll of microfilm to view the 1940 census.

I found my great-grandparents in the 1940 Census for Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois--in enumeration district 34-29. That roll is 810.

Where is the roll number? How did I get it?

I'm a big fan of downloading the images from NARA directly and the roll number is contained within the name of the individual files. All I have to do is unzip the files and the roll number is embedded in the file name. The dots are right above the film number in the illustration below from Illinois enumeration district 34-29


A zoomed in view


If you don't download the images, you can get the roll numbers from the Steve Morse site http://www.stevemorse.org/census/unified.html

Fairly simple there to do that. Enter in the state and the enumeration district. Remember that the numbers preceding the hyphen in the enumeration district indicate the county. Click the radio button to give you the 1940 ED description as shown in the illustration.


The results page will provide the roll number.
Of course, if you've used the microfilm--then just look on the box!

Good luck with your citations.