This morning, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration released the long-awaited images of the 1940 census. The web site is hosted by Archives.com. Within seconds, the web site at 1940census.archives.gov slowed to a crawl.
I won't describe all the details as they are well documented in other articles. Despite the fact that Archives.com was using hundreds of virtual web servers in Amazon's cloud, the systems could not handle the load. Genealogists were left looking at hourglass icons or at error messages of "Site Unavailable."
Luckily, alternative web sites are also hosting the same images.
To be sure, no other single web site has all the images online just yet. Only 1940census.archives.gov has the complete collection of images online at this time, although that will change within a very few days.
The images became available for purchase last night at midnight to any company willing to pay for them. (The price reportedly is $200,000.) Several companies purchased the entire set and are now uploading all the images to their own web servers. The images that have been uploaded are available to you right now. In every case that I know of, the alternative web sites are not busy, not overloaded, and the images appear within seconds. That may change, however, as the word gets out that there are alternatives available.
Uploading all the images requires 48 hours or more, depending on the speed of the Internet connections available. In most cases, these companies have very high speed OC3 or faster connections. If you tried to upload the same images from a typical broadband Internet connection in your home, the time required to upload all 3.8 million images would probably be measured in months.
The official 1940census.archives.gov web site obviously had an advance copy, as you would expect from any "official" site. The others had to wait until after 12:01 AM Eastern Time on April 2 to obtain their copies.
As of the time these words are being written, the following web sites have PARTIAL collections of the 1940 census images available:
Ancestry.com has Washington D.C., Delaware and Nevada available with other states being added now. The site is NOT busy or overloaded when I checked on Monday evening. Look at www.ancestry.com/1940.
MyHeritage.com has New York and Rhode Island available now with Pennsylvania and Illinois expected to come online within minutes. All the remaining images should be online by early Wednesday morning. The site is NOT busy or overloaded when I checked on Monday evening. Look at MyHeritage.com/1940census.
FamilySearch.org has several states available now and all the images are expected to be available within days. The site is NOT busy or overloaded when I checked on Monday evening. Look at FamilySearch.org/1940census.
The official 1940 census web site remains as the only web site to have ALL the images available, if you can get to them. The site is overloaded and slow to respond, although I expect this to be a temporary situation that will clear itself within a few days. Look at 1940census.archives.gov.
Remember, you do have alternatives.
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