The feasibility of reanalysis before radiosondes using an ensemble square-root filter (EnSRF) is examined. Real surface pressure observations for 2001 are used, sub-sampled to resemble the density of observations we estimate to be available for 1915. Analysis errors are defined relative to a three-dimensional variational (3DVar) analysis using several orders of magnitude more observations, both at the surface and aloft. We find that the EnSRF is computationally tractable and considerably more accurate than other candidate analysis schemes which use static background-error covariance estimates. We conclude that a Northern Hemisphere reanalysis of the middle and lower troposphere during the first half of the 20th century is feasible using only surface pressure observations. Expected Northern Hemisphere analysis errors at 500 hPa for the 1915 observation network are similar to current 2.5 day forecast errors.