Prior to the release of the census images, the genealogy community was awash in webinars, seminars, blog posts, newspaper articles, and television spots that described the process undertaken to:
- digitize the census from the original microfilm rolls (all I can say from my prior experience with microfilm is thank you so very much),
- provide those images to the companies that would upload it on day one,
- acquire the 3.9 scanned image pages and upload them to host company servers,
- put together photographs, historical timelines, location summaries, migration patterns, and search functions all in interactive on-site displays for the public,
- draft programs to encourage volunteers to sign up to index the census, and
- in another truly amazing example of generosity and brilliance by Professors Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub (and their unsung band of volunteers) come up the one-step tools to locate enumeration districts to find people in the census both before and after the indexes have been completed.
It seems that on April 2 everyone and their brother went online through the National Archives and its partners (the 1940 US Census Community Project sponsored by Archives, FamilySearch and FindMyPast, together with several Society sponsors including the NGS, FGS and APG) or to the unaffiliated sites, Ancestry and MyHeritage, in order to find their families on the 1940 Census. The various sites were understandably overloaded with many of us "chomping at the bit" to explore the census images. From the outset I decided to check out a census image or two just "to be part of history," and then index whatever was in the que until the census images became available. I saw some images from Delaware and that gave me my 1940 Census fix. To tell you the truth, it never occurred to me that census indexing would be up and running that first day. I spent an hour indexing World War I Draft Registration Cards from New Jersey and then, to my surprise, in the evening I indexed my first batch of Delaware images.
I had signed up for DearMyrtle's 1940 U.S. Census Images and Indexing Updates hosted by RootsMagic. I attended four of the five evenings ~ what a great experience that was! DearMyrtle had all of the players on her webinar each night. If you did not attend you can play catch-up by checking out the link to the webinars. We received lots of tips and tricks, best practices, and hints for using the census tools and incorporating the census results with our genealogy database programs. We also got to hear from those who found family members and shared their stories.
In my opinion it was all good and it was a great week for genealogy! However, I was absolutely amazed at some of comments that were posted on the various websites the first few days. Specifically:
- where is the index for these images?
- why can't I find my family in the census?
- why do the pages load so slowly?
- why wasn't my state uploaded until [fill in the date]?
- when will my state be indexed?
- how I am supposed to find the address for my family in 1940?
- why does the one-step program require so much information?
- where are the citations to the census?, and the ever popular
- why didn't those companies plan better [together with helpful tips on how they would have done it faster]?