Apr 03

Adventures of the Opening of the 1940 U.S. Census

Driving to the National Archives at Atlanta in Morrow from my home in the North Georgia Mountains normally takes one hour and forty-five minutes. That is if I’m not traveling during rush hour. I left my home at 5:30 yesterday morning to beat the traffic and arrived in Morrow a little over an hour prior to eight thirty when the doors would open. That left me some time for a bit of breakfast, a bit of reading, and a couple of quick games of Suduko on my iPhone,.

I was hoping for a crowd, but it was not to be. About twenty-five folks arrived early. After they had stopped for coffee and some delightful refreshments, many headed to the public computers while some of us settled in the Morrow Room to watch the live streaming of the activities in Washington on the big screen. There I, also, plugged in my laptop to access the images of the 1940 Census for Loudon, New Hampshire. The live streaming was a disappointment and it wasn’t only because the census images were not co-operating (I learned later that the fire-wall of the National Archives computers were the culprit), but the screen shots being shown in Washington were so fuzzy we couldn’t read them—it was as if the projector was terribly out of focus.

Of course those who had stationed themselves at the computers were also frustrated because of issues – perhaps stemming from bandwidth and/or perhaps stemming from firewall issues.

The first success story came from archivist Guy Hall who was able to view the census image containing his father. Guy had accessed the pages for the state of Maine on Ancestry.com.

In spite of the various problems, I’m glad I was there. It is always nice to visit with folks that I see all too seldom. We were also treated to some great 1940s jazz from Jim McSweeney’s CD collection.

I thank the National Archives at Atlanta for giving us the opportunity to gather for the big reveal on a day when the Archives is normally closed!

© Linda Woodward Geiger. All Rights Reserved.