Beginning April 2, 2012, the National Archives will provide access to the images of the 1940 U.S. Federal census for the very first time. Unlike previous census years, the images of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made available as free digital images at http://1940census.archives.gov. Genealogists have waited for this day for years and are eager to get a first look.
But there’s a catch: the 1940 Census will not have a name-searchable index! The Archives does offer this page of suggestions on how to use the 1940 census: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/start-research.html.
The 1940 Census Community Project, a joint initiative between Archives.com, FamilySearch, findmypast.com, and other leading genealogical organizations, will immediately start indexing the newly-released records – but it will take some considerable time to completely finish the job.
CRRL's popular in-house database Ancestry Library will be on board, promising free access to the 1940 Census images (and eventual indices) through the end of 2013, after which they will continue to be available to service subscribers.