April 3, 2012

1940 NARA and Archives.Com Census Release Effort Fails

Update Apr 4. 2012:

If you are still having problems with the NARA/Archives.com website, it may be your browser. I switched from Google Chrome to Firefox this morning and everything is working smoothly. Could be a result of improvements on the Archives.com site, but I've had recent problems with Chrome not displaying everything it should on a website.

The NARA effort to provide us the 1940 census in its entirety is commendable.

That having been said however, NARA apparently chose the wrong company to do the job.  The company, Archives.com has not, in my estimation, done a very good job.

Having the advantage over all other census websites by partnering early with NARA, one might think that between the two they would be on-line and up to speed the moment the census release became official.

That wasn't the case however!

Most everyone knows by now the problems that Archives.com had.  The company seriously underestimated the amount of traffic that the census would generate to their site.  As a result many users sat and watched as the company servers struggled to merely display the search page.  In my case, I never was able to view an actual census image.  Archives.com later released a statement/apology sort of thing but it did little to relieve the frustration that millions of people must have felt while watching that little circle endlessly rotate on their monitors.

Finally, this morning I was able to view some images.  Clearly, Archives.com had made some improvements overnight.


A complete image still loads slowly!

Images appear way too large with no discernible way to adjust them on screen without resorting to using Control +/- keys on the keyboard. Zoom out and every thing on screen shrinks, including next and previous image buttons.

In one 20 page packet of images for my hometown I found two image-less pages (Image 10 and 16, ED 17-25, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA).

By the time I got completely fed up with the "Official" NARA site, Ancestry had completed uploading images for at least five states and/or territories, one of which was Virginia.  I was able to complete review and extracting data from one district in Amherst Co.

I'm still looking forward to finding myself in the record.

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