As we approach the noon hour on this historic morning of the official 1940 Census release by the National Archives, I wanted to document my experiences so far.....and share the one image I was able to download.
The morning began with anticipation tweets, a half hour press conference, and then tweets of frustration as very few people were able to download anything. It was clear the servers were just not up to the momentous task, and we all continue to wait for bigger servers, or at least for the rush to slow down for improved search results.
Having your enumeration numbers ready was a clear headstart since all portions of the NARA site were painfully slow. I had thought of another enumeration district I could look up while waiting, but even the maps and descriptions would not load for me.
By using the enumeration district you can search much quicker, and as you can see from the image below, they have the option of searching by either 1930 or 1940 ED. This can be very helpful if you have not done your homework ahead of time. Ancestry.com has opened up their 1940 related documents until April 10th, which includes the 1930 Census. Since their servers are running much faster, just pop over there to get your 1930 ED while you wait!
Some other news regarding access as of noon April 2nd:
Ancestry.com has won the access race so far. They received the images at 12:01AM and have been loading images for browsing since then. As of noon today, they had 11 states/territories available for browsing - and I must say, the images loaded very fast. I didn't even need an ED as there were drop-downs to let me choose state, county, community which then took me to an ED area for browsing. Very fast, and as they add more states, I will be using them for browsing unless the NARA system improves considerably. I think Ancestry is the dark horse today as most people will be flooding NARA and not bothering with Ancestry access - which means their less traffic will make for smoother sailing.
FamilySearch only has one state up for browsing as of noon: Delaware. Nice page for searching and progress, plus the images loaded very fast.....but with only one state by noon, Ancestry is winning!
MyHeritage has a lovely 1940 Census page exploring the culture and times, and announces that they will have content from the 1940 Census that no one else will: "See new unpublished records first - We'll be uploading data for US States that aren't yet available anywhere else, so you'll be the first to explore them!" However, as of noon, they have not posted any images from the 1940 Census.