Genealogists Drown the 1940 Census

I blogged before (see A Calculating People, February 23, 2012) about the release yesterday of the 1940 census records. Today, the Web site of the National Archives and Records Administration displays an apology for the difficulties people had in accessing the web site, saying: “We have seen extraordinary demand for the 1940 census records, with over 37 million hits since 9:00 a.m. on 4/2/12.” According to USA Today (which also provides an infographic with the census data from 1940 and 2010), 22.5 million of these curious and impatient  genealogists visited the site in the first three hours. A case of overly successful social media promotion? In a related note, the U.S. Census Bureau is planning to “modernize” its IT infrastructure in time for the next census. Here is what it says about its plans:

2020 Census: A Look Ahead

The Census Bureau is planning some major innovations in the design of the census in order to control costs and improve efficiency. A preview is below.

 Multiple Mode Response Options

The 2020 Census will be a “multiple mode” census, using mail, telephone, Internet, face-to-face interviews and other electronic response options that may emerge to ensure that diverse subgroups of the population have every opportunity to submit their information. Increasingly innovative alternatives approach a nearly paperless census design.

 Targeted Address Canvassing

For the 2010 Census, staff in the field walked almost every street in the nation to ensure that every housing unit was counted in the correct geography. This operation, known as address canvassing, was one of the most expensive components of the census. Updating the Master Address File and the associated mapping system known as TIGER continually throughout the decade will reduce costs by targeting canvassing efforts.

 Modernizing Infrastructure and Streamlining Operations

The Census Bureau will be modernizing the information technology (IT) and field support infrastructure and automating data collection operations. It is exploring innovations in enumeration procedures that will allow for a smaller number of field offices, and staff will use electronic devices rather than pens and paper.

 341.4 million

Projected U.S. population in 2020.

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