Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The 2010 Census

The 2010 census is upon us. Very soon, your census form should be arriving in your mailbox. For genealogists, the census takes on special relevance as we realize that 72 years from now, some of our progeny may be excited to find our names among the 2010 census.

Every ten years, Americans are presented with an opportunity to record information about ourselves and our household members that not only provides our government with important statistical and demographic information for determining apportionment of congressional representation and monitoring demographic trends, but also creates one of the most frequently used sources of information for genealogical research. You may have seen or heard that the paper forms completed by individual households for the 2010 Census will be destroyed after the aggregate statistics have been compiled. The possibility of losing the information completed by individual households has alrmed genealogists across the nation. Well, it sounds as though we can relax a bit on this issue. Here's an explanation from Dr. Robert M. Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, as posted on the Census 2010 Blog:

"Our paper forms for the 2010 census are being processed by very high speed optical scanners, which create a digital image of our forms exactly as we filled them out. Those machines also create a numeric data record that is used for the statistical aggregation of answers from all persons in the census."

"One decision we had to make was whether to save both the numeric data record (for statistical purposes) and the digital image (to aid the genealogists of the future). We’ve decided to save the digital images and transfer them to the National Archives for safekeeping until 2082. This means your descendents many years from now, if they’re interested in seeing traces of their ancestors, can see your own writing that you used in filling out the 2010 census. You might want to keep them in mind when you complete your form."

You might want to take a look at the Census 2010 Blog and learn more about other questions and challenges pertaining to the collection of Census information.

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