April 3, 2012 / 4:10 PM / 7 years ago

Government site back up after it crashes with 1940 census data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A National Archives website that crashed with the release of 1940 census data was back up on Tuesday after it had been swamped by people looking for family information.

The website (1940census.archives.gov/) was overwhelmed from the first minute the data was made available on Monday, with 22.5 million hits in the first four hours, said Miriam Kleiman, a National Archives spokeswoman. The number reached 37 million by the afternoon.

“No one anticipated this level of interest and it was just too much for the servers,” she said, adding that the Archives had carried out tests before the release.

“As my boss said, we’re a victim of our own success.”

The 1940 data is the first census to be posted online by the U.S. government.

Kleiman said the site was operating normally on Tuesday. The data release involved 3.9 million images, the largest number put online by the National Archives, the U.S. record keeper.

The 1940 data from the once-a-decade census include forms listing households by address, with such information as names, ages, place of birth, marital status and value of home.

Kleiman said Americans’ growing interest in genealogy and family history was a big factor behind the website’s crashing, given the wealth of information available for free.

People interested in looking at the forms previously had to visit the Archives in person, she said.

Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott

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