I’m a happy subscriber to Ancestry.com, so have used it primarily when searching the 1940 census. When it was released in April, the 1940 Census wasn’t indexed. In other words, you couldn’t just enter in a person’s name and find them. You needed to know their enumeration district, which you could get if you knew the address. I was able to track my parents down by asking them their childhood addresses–I was so grateful they remembered where they lived in 1940.
Through the months, volunteers have been working hard to index the site (reading the hand-written entries and entering them into databases), and gradually states have been completed.
I just received an email from Archives.com, stating that the entire 1940 Census has been indexed and can be searched, free of charge, on that website. (Archives is a paid service, so I suspect the free part is on a limited basis.) I clicked the link and searched for my father and, sure enough, there his nine-year-old self was. It took only a couple of links and I was looking at an image of the census form. I have an account (though I’m not a member) and I suspect that hastened the process.
According to the email from Archives, over one hundred thousand volunteers worked on indexing the census. That’s an amazing effort!
If you are just starting to dip your toe into family history research, here’s a chance to find a genealogical record for someone you might have known. Give it a try!