Archive for April, 2012

Join the Chorus

Written on: April 13, 2012 | 4 Comments

Until fairly recently, social media has been seen as experimental and outside the realm of the essential work of our agency. Today that is simply no longer the case.  Smart use of social media is now mission-critical to our agency. As the agency charged with advising Federal Agencies and the White House on the records implications of the technologies they are using, we must be out in front in our own use of these technologies.  And all Federal Agencies and the White House are deep into the social media experience.  And using social media channels in our own work, we can work more collaboratively, provide greater transparency for each other and the public, and invite the public to participate in our efforts.

We should understand the sea change that technology has brought to the American public and people around the world. According to a Pew report, 66% of online adults use social media platforms. By effectively engaging with social media tools, we are building and maintaining relevance with the public.

Many staff members at the National Archives have embraced social media–our communications staff is facile, many staff who interact with our user communities have created blogs and are tweeting, and all of our Presidential Libraries have both feet in the social media world.  This is not a passing fad or a frivolous use of technology.  It … [ Read all ]

1940 Census Release

Written on: April 2, 2012 | 1 Comment

On April 1, 1940 over 120,000 census takers fanned out across the United States to begin conducting the 1940 census. Over the next several weeks they would enumerate over 131,000,000 residents of the country from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to families living in the remotest areas of the nation.

Genealogists, social scientists, historians, and others, as well as the staff here at the National Archives, are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to discover what life was like as the country neared the end of the Great Depression. The 1940 census reflects the previous decade with questions intended to track migration and employment during the Depression. For the first time the Bureau of the Census employed sampling when conducting the census. Approximately five percent of the population was asked supplemental questions including ones about military service, the birthplace of parents, and, for women, marital status and the number of children.

On Monday morning, I was pleased to co-host the National Archives’ ceremony along with my friend, Robert Groves, Director of the Census Bureau. Together, we officially opened the 1940 census to the public.  For the first time, we released the 3.8 million pages of the census online, which was the largest online release of a single series of digitized records by the National Archives.

Immediately following the release, the online traffic to our website was astounding.  Within … [ Read all ]