04/05/2012 11:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

1940 Census Release Reveals Family History of Tourist-Favorite Barn

From around the world, people are flocking to genealogy websites -- in bandwidth-crashing droves -- in search of family history.

With the release of the entire 1940 census, the social media high-tech generation meets history. The unprecedented interest took down the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) system before it had a chance to go live on Monday morning.

People like Jerry Moulton (Saratoga Springs, Utah) heard that the Wyoming images had just gone live at the MyHeritage 1940 website, and decided to do a quick search for his roots.

"I have some experience in searching for records, so I thought it would be easy," said Jerry, who soon discovered that he needed more information to search. The census ID or Enumeration District (ED) was found quickly using MyHeritage tools.

Jerry found the first of his family: "I found my father's sister, and her husband. I knew they lived just down the road from my grandfather's ranch, so I knew I was close."

He found more family and -- not far down the page -- his dad's name. His father, then 21, was living with his parents while preparing to enter the Army. Jerry was reliving history.

He also noticed something interesting. The value of the home they lived in, under the Grand Tetons, was listed as $1,000. Ironically, the home no longer stands, but the barn is now an iconic symbol of the western United States.

Now owned by the Grand Teton National Park, the T.A. Moulton Barn is one of the most photographed structures in North America. The Moultons now live around the country but continue to gather each Memorial Day near the graves of their ancestors and at this treasured national and family monument.

This story is just one of thousands playing out right now on computers across the country and worldwide, as ordinary people anywhere can quickly discover their family stories, and relive history.