I rushed back from the gym yesterday morning to catch the live webcast at 8:30 with David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Some facts: this is the first digital release of a census and it contains approximately 3.9 million images and about 132 million names of which around 21 million are still living. At 9 a.m. I (along with very large numbers of others) click to find my first ancestor, my grandparents, Frank and Minnie Mitchell in Greenwich, Connecticut...nothing happened. On the webcast, the project manager announced she would bring up Mr. Ferriero's family and her experience was the same as mine! She finally resorted to her prepared slides to show what should have happened.
After about an hour, I went back to writing a client report with intermittent interruptions to see if the cloud had caught up with the requests. I figured I had until mid-afternoon as I was doing a presentation to our local genealogy club last night on the 1940 census. The closest I ever got was a message that stated "loading." This morning I got up about 6:30 and the site worked like a charm. According to Archives.com in the first few hours the site got 22.5 million hits and the 1940 census was ranked the #1 "hot search" on Google.
I had used Steve Morse's Unified 1940 Census ED Finder (which I wrote about here) to identify the ED for the Mitchell family. They lived (I thought) at 58 Church Street in Greenwich, Connecticut. I initially got three possible EDs, but was able to narrow it down with cross streets. Once I got into the site I had 40 images in the ED to review. I scrolled through the images by looking for Church Street and found it beginning on image 16...not too bad. My family began at the bottom of image 17 and continued to image 18. They were not at 58 Church St, but at 47. My great grandmother, Rachel Spooner died in 1939 and owned the houses at both 47 and 58 Church Street (as well as numerous other properties around Connecticut <g>). The houses were left to her single daughter, Florence. My grandparents and my grandmother's sister, Florence Sprague were living at 47 Church and the house at 58 Church was rented.
So what did I learn...Frank Mitchell was listed as the Head of the family, born in Austria. Now if you've followed by blog for any length of time, you've seen references to my grandfather who according to the 1920 census was Polish and the 1930 census was Czech. I'll have to pull out some maps, but I'm pretty sure, Liski wasn't in Austria in 1 Jan 1937 (instructions to the enumerators were to identify the county of origin as of the 1937 borders). His immigration status was listed as "PA" however he was naturalized in 1917. He was employed as a chauffeur on a private estate, had been employed 52 weeks in 1939 and his income was $2600.
My grandmother, Minnie S. Mitchell was listed as 42 years old (lied again about her age...she was 47) born in Eire. The instructions required that the census taker distinguish between the Irish Free State (Eire) and Northern Ireland. She had completed 8th grade was and working at housework in her home.
My father, Thomas J. was also listed, but absent from the household (he was a student at the University of Georgia). His education indicated he had completed 4 years of high school.
Finally, at the top of the next page was Florence Sprague, listed as a lodger which was interesting since she owned the house and was the sister-in-law of the person listed as Head. Florence was the person who provided the information to the census taker, identified by a "x" next to her name. She too was listed as 42 years old, born Eire and an office worker for the Town of Greenwich working 52 weeks in 1939 and earning $1200.
I'm looking forward to finding the rest of my family in the 1940 census. One of the things to remember is that the information on the census is self reported so use it in conjunction with other sources to gain a full picture of your ancestors. That's why we do an "exhaustive search" for records and don't base our findings on a single record. I know the house situation based on the information from my great grandmother's will.
Back to yesterday's presentation...although I wasn't able to use my family as an example, I was able to pull a census record from Ancestry which by mid afternoon had portions of about 10 states and 4 territories uploaded. They expect to have the entire census uploaded (but not indexed) by the end of the week.
FamilySearch had five states loaded and indexing had begun. FindMyPast (BrightSolid, one of the partners in the census project with Archives.com and FamilySearch) expected to have the images loaded with the next two weeks.
I encourage you to assist with the indexing...the more people who help, the faster the indexes will become available. And volunteering to index with the 1940 census project through FamilySearch keeps the information free.