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1940 US census viewable online after near freeze

By Randy Herschaft

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 2:10 p.m. MDT

In this 1940 photo provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, an enumerator collects data from a street vendor carrying a poll of fresh crabs in Puerto Rico. Technical issues plagued the 1940 Census website on Monday, April 2, 2012, the first day that it became available to the public but the National Archives said Tuesday, April 3, that census pages are again available for viewing. The government website got 37 million hits hours after the information was first released to the public Monday morning, all but paralyzing attempts to access details.

U.S. Census Bureau, Associated Press

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NEW YORK — Documents obtained by The Associated Press have shown that the U.S. government agency tasked with releasing the digitized records of the 1940 census badly underestimated their popularity.

The newly released U.S. census was such a hot item that it took a day for the website to get up to speed after tens of millions of hits nearly paralyzed it. The National Archives said Tuesday that census pages are again available for viewing.

Documents show the National Archives had contracted with a third party expecting 25,000 concurrent users and up to 10 million visits per day. The documents also said the site was expected to "scale on demand."

The website got 37 million hits hours after the records were posted Monday.

An archives spokeswoman says they "weren't expecting the huge volume."

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