On April 2 at 9 a.m. the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) uploaded the census pages online (all 3.8 million of them!). Two weeks ago, subscription site Ancestry.com finished indexing the 1940 census first, using paid indexers in China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. In just four months, however, the 1940 Census Community Project worked together to create an everyname index for NARA, Archives.com, FindMyPast.com, ProQuest, and FamilySearch.org with 160,000 unpaid volunteers from around the world. The Ancestry.com and 1940 Census Community Project web sites give free access to the 1940 census index and census pages.
Having two different indexing sources can help your genealogy research. Some bloggers, such as Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, have been making name-by-name comparisons of both indexes. Me, I like Ancestry.com's enhanced image viewer. But, after trying many variations on Ancestry.com, in just a minute on FamilySearch.org, I found my first cousin twice removed, Harry Henry, in Boston. Yes, his wife told the census taker he was a decade younger, but I know it's Harry because he was a musician working on the WPA music project, just like he stated in his 1942 World War II draft registration.
The 1940 community project inspired many genealogists to work together on a common goal. The next big project is indexing the U.S. immigration and naturalization records, including the Boston passenger lists 1820-1891. Consider volunteering.