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Historic census Web site crashes

LONDON, England -- A Web site offering a glimpse of life in the UK 100 years ago crashed after more than one million people tried to log on within hours of its launch.

More servers were being brought in on Thursday but organisers warn it could take several days before they can meet demand.

The 1901 online census at, which lists names, ages, addresses and even mental health records of 32 million people who lived in England and Wales, ground to a halt following its launch on Wednesday.

Included in the 1901 list are "music hall artiste" Charles Chaplin, author J.R.R. Tolkien and French painter Claude Monet.

When working, it enables people researching their family trees to work from home rather than travel to London to access records.

"We have had more than a million hits since it went online," a spokeswoman for the Public Record Office told the UK's Press Association.

"The system is overloading and we ask people to be patient. All we can suggest is to keep trying."

About 1.5 million pages of information have been placed online. It is the first time a British census has gone online and the 1891 survey is set to follow.

Project manager Alison Webster said: "The census returns are our most popular documents and making them available on the Internet means that anyone can access information on their ancestors, the history of their house and their local area, as well as gaining an insight into the social and economic conditions of the time."

Jill Brassington, who worked on the project, traced her father -- a five-year-old in 1901 -- within minutes. "He had died when I was two years old. Finding him gave me a real buzz," she said.

Colleague Margaret Brennand added: "Family history has always been popular but the advent of the Internet has knocked down all the physical barriers."



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