It turns out the National Archives and Records Administration’s opening of the 1940 census records on Monday was quite popular with Americans.
Too popular, actually.
The servers for the census web site set up by the archives and its partner, California-based data commerce company Inflection, couldn’t handle the 22.5 million hits they received Monday morning, and crashed. Inflection is the parent company of archives.com, a genealogy web site.
The 22.5 million hits were made by some 1.9 million web users, according to the archives.
Because of the crash, many people — including a large group gathered at the Morrow-based National Archives at Atlanta — couldn’t access the newly unsealed records.
“Our testing indicated NARA and Inflection could handle the load, but 1.9 [million] visitors caused issues we’re working to resolve,” the Archives announced on its “@archivesnews” Twitter site just after 1 p.m. Shortly after that, they tweeted “it’s incredibly frustrating.”
This was the first time the archives had performed an online release for newly unsealed decennial census records, it announced in a news release. There were 3.9 million images of census records that were being made available to the public, through the National Archives web site, and archives officials said it was the largest collection of digital records that they had ever released.
After the servers crashed, the archives announced on its Twitter site that it will add more servers to help support online demand for the census records, which have been sealed for 72 years.
National Archives at Atlanta Public Programs Specialist Mary Evelyn Tomlin said the server problems put a damper on a launch party the archives branch was hosting on Monday. It was one of the rare times that the archives was open to the public on a attended.
Tomlin said a large crowd of people came to be among the first to view the records immediately when they were scheduled to become available at 9 a.m.
“Since we couldn’t access the records at 9 a.m., everybody just ate the food and for waited a little while to see if the records were going to become available,” she said. At 3:30 p.m., the local National Archives branch still could not access the online records.
Call the National Archives at Atlanta, at (770) 968-2100, for more information about the 1940 census records. Log onto twitter.com/archivesnews, or twitter.com/usnatarchives, for updates on the archives’ progress on the server issue.
The actual 1940 census records are expected to be accessed at 1940census.archives.gov/.