With nearly 4 million images now available online for browsing, it's been amazing to see how excited the genealogical community is about the 1940 census. Even 'genea-friends' from other parts of the globe seem to share in our excitement. They are, after all, our kind of people too. The type who understand our passion. I was honored and thankful to have a virtual front-row seat for the some of the events as they unfolded on launch day in Washington D.C.
As an official spokesperson for The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, I took a train from my home in Connecticut yesterday (Sunday, 01 April) and rode the rails for nearly 5 hours to our nations capitol. I thought about my great grandparents and how they would have had to travel by rail to central Connecticut after their arrival through the Port of New York. Although my trip was s little different with WiFi, a laptop, an iPad, iPhone, Google+ Hangouts while zipping down the tracks.
Today was the day many of us has been waiting for. As much as I wanted to be at my laptop, ready to pounce on images from Connecticut, I sat in a television studio somewhere in central-DC, being hooked up to locations throughout the United States for live television and radio interviews - more than two dozen in all. It seems the interest in family history has never been stronger and we have never been more fortunate given the technology available to us as we pursue our hobby/passion.
As I type this, I'm on an AmTrak train back to Connecticut. It's 7:30pm Eastern and within the last 30 minutes, I've just seen my first 1940 Census Population Schedule neatly filled in with names and all the pertinent details. This particular census enumerator (Marjory E. Boman) did a wonderful job listing the names of the many residents of the Beth-El General Hospital, Colorado Springs (El Paso County), Colorado. No connection to me or my family, but I really wanted to see an image and this is the first that was available. It came courtesy of FamilySearch.org, one of 5 states they currently had images loaded for. Other sites (Archives.gov, Archives.com, and Ancestry.com) had some images loaded, but I've not yet been able to view any. FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage.com will also be offering images for the U.S. Census, but neither appeared to have any 1940 images loaded as of yet.
I've seen a few Tweets, Facebook, and Google+ posts which are critical of the launch efforts. I'm disappointed to see that. I know that most family history enthusiasts are thrilled and very appreciative of the hard work that all the organizations (and so many unnamed individuals) have done for many, many months to prepare for today. Let's take a moment to THANK them for their efforts, not ridicule them for the fact that sometimes even the best of technology can't respond to our high expectations of every record, free, full searchable, at precisely the minute of launch for millions of us who want to view our own grandparents records.
» Thank you U.S. Census Bureau.
» Thank you National Archives and Records Administration.
» Thank you Ancestry.com
» Thank you Archives.com (Inflection)
» Thank you FamilySearch.org
» Thank you FindMyPast.com (brightsolid)
» Thank you MyHeritage.com
» Thank you SteveMorse.org (Steve Morse, Joel Weintraub, and all their volunteers!!)
and a very sincere thank you to the many, many others whom I may not have mentioned here, but only because I don't even know all that goes on behind the scenes to pull off something this big.
It's a fun day for our industry, let's celebrate it. The stories will unfold in the weeks, months and years to come as a result of the data we will find in these 1940 census records!