Monday, April 02, 2012

1940 Census Cheers and Jeers

Frustrated by little or no access to the official NARA website images for the 1940 Federal Census? The best advice from Amy Johnson Crow, an official from the company that built the website is:

Download rather than view an census image page online. 

WHERE do you click to download? In the screen shot below, while you are watching those "swirling circles" click and select "download" from the popup menu.

At about 4:15pm Eastern US time, I tried accessing the site, and only got a blank screen. When I tweeted about it, I received this reply from NARA:

 @archivesnews: They're pushing out some updates to improve performance. Thanks for sticking with us! #1940census

OK,Ol' Myrt here decide to look at the ED 40-115 (enumeration district) maps for Seattle, King County, Washington.  I followed the steps above, by received this all-to-familiar screen:

FamilySearch had similar problems when they went live, and they didn't have the benefit of's super-fast cloud servers. But then according to NARA reports 22.5 million hits in the first four hours today.

I've heard that and are loading states bit by bit, that provides the faster access service of the two.

Follow Ancestry's loading progress here:

Follow FamilySearch's loading progress here:

In a phone call just now with Jim Ericson of FamilySearch, these initial five states should be in the FamilySearch Indexing queue TONIGHT: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Oregon and Virginia.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Besides being in the indexing queue for FamilySearch, those 5 states are available for viewing, even if you're not indexing. I haven't tried using FamilySearch because those aren't 'my' states. But I must say that's images are a breeze to access and navigate. I'm sorry that the NARA site is having so much trouble compared to this morning.

  2. Thanks for that update, especially that very last little paragraph, Myrt! I thought I was doing something wrong; I am being patient about looking up my kin, but was anxious to get started indexing. One of the speakers this morning, as you well know, said there are 100,000 of us indexers but they could use another 200,000! Anyway, it's all pretty exciting and I'll be patient. I wonder how tonite's webinar will go - maybe some folk have gotten lucky in their research.

  3. Thanks for the update, I keep getting the Opps page too. Found my Hefley's in Kansas on the familysearch site and my Stuby's on the Ancestry site. But, the familysearch stopped working for a while and told me to try back later. Today has been such a let down.

  4. The little whirling circle does NOT offer an option to download.

    I did get as far as seeing a thumbnail for one page I very much want to see, but neither download nor view worked - I got the "oops" page.

  5. I'm trying hard not to be an old fuddy-duddy, but perhaps if did NOT offer over 320 different ways to share via social media, we would not be having this impossibility to view.

    Next time you TRY to view a census page take a look at the "Bookmark & Share" intrusion. If I could attach an image here, I would.

  6. I'm lucky enough that it was easy enough to find a large part of mine simply because they didn't move in Indiana. However, it would be nice if Ancestry would let me attach them to my tree already. Now, at some point, I'll have to go back and reannotate the online tree.

  7. I think that this entire process stinks. I have been trying to access ED 103-2730 for 12 hours now. I have tried downloading and only get the oops message - even after refreshing. I have tried quick view and full screen. I have tried on IE and also on Chrome. They did a great job inviting everyone to the party, but unfortunately only had refreshments for a few. Not good public relations...

  8. I have been able to access a most-wanted ED this morning (Tuesday, 3 Apr) and download all its pages, rather quickly, as a zip file. Got my grandparents, great-grandmother and many cousins and aunts from a tiny town in rural Georgia - 6-page ED.

  9. What viewer software do you use to view the download? I must be missing something here!

  10. What is frustrating for me is getting to the page I want (finally & thank goodness), going to the "download" link at top, and just touching the link immediately sets off a jump to a page with only the "reCaptcha" graphic on it. I do not get any time to select image quality, or if I want that page or all pages for the ED. I can't understand why that link behaves as if it's on a hair trigger!

    Completing the reCaptcha on the resulting page does not work - does nothing. Then somehow I go back to the View Full Image screen, and have to start on page 1 of the ED - and the page I want is at the other end of all the pages!

    I wish they had a drop menu to go to a specific page for the ED, too.

    But - I am thankful that the NARA site is working better today, and we are able to look at our ancestors' info in 1940.

    1. I am on an emac (with Safari for a browser) and I have the same issue. I've tried contacting them about it, but in when I try to fill out the contact form... yet another useless reCaptcha thing pops up. -___-

  11. I'm using Firefox 11 as my browser - no additional viewer software required.

  12. Late today, Firefox 11 began having problems with Slow to load, timeouts, etc.

    I switched to IE 9, which seemed to work MUCH faster.

    Just an FYI for others.