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1940 census: 22.5 million hits in three hours overloads website

April 2, 2012 | 12:37 pm

1940s censusMillions of Americans nationwide jumped on the 1940 census website to search their family history in its newly revealed records — so many that servers were immediately overwhelmed, officials said.

"In the first three hours, we had 22.5 million hits on the site," said National Archives and Records Administration spokeswoman Susan Cooper. "We're a victim of our own success."

Cooper said the archives had anticipated significant interest in the public release of the census, the first time such information has been available online, but not quite as much as materialized.

"It’s frustrating and we share that frustration with the public," Cooper said. She said some people are getting through on the website, but many are not. "We’re working as fast as we can to fix the problem."

The archives partnered with Inflection, a Silicon Valley company that owns Archives.com, a family history website, to host the new website for the 1940 census release.

Among those affected by the glitch: Census Director Robert Groves, who was all set to search his own family history as part of a ceremony this morning at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Groves was about to look up information about his grandfather, who lived in St. Louis in 1940. But the data just kept loading and loading, Cooper said. Luckily, Groves and other officials at the opening ceremony had prepared a backup PowerPoint demonstration of how the website will work, the spokeswoman said.

The website is: www.1940scensus.archives.gov.


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Photo: An image of a poster shows promotional efforts during the 1940 census. Credit: Associated Press / University of Texas at Arlington Library