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The 2010 Census

At 12:01 on April 1, 2082, millions of genealogists around the solar system will be able to instantaneously download every image from the 2010 census into their neural storage chip, and within minutes these images will be linked to the ancestors in their 3D holographic family trees. Almost all of these genealogists will be able to find themselves in these census images and index.

Okay, maybe it’s a little premature to guess about the use of a census that hasn’t even been enumerated yet, but as most genealogists know, census results are the backbone of the genealogical world. Only one census has been released since the advent of the internet. In 2002 the 1930 census was released, and the countdown to the April 2, 2012 release of the 1940 census has already begun.

The 2010 census is only 2 years away. Here is the planned schedule for the 2010 census:

  • March 2010 – Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.
  • April – June 2010 – Census workers visit households that did not mail back a census questionnaire.
  • December 31, 2010 – U.S. population totals are due to the President.

On Thursday, it was announced that the government will not use handheld computers to collect information from Americans who fail to return their census forms (HT: GeneaSofts). Instead, census takers will use traditional pen and paper forms. It is estimated that this will increase the cost of the entire census to over $14 billion. That’s almost $47 per person!

Interestingly, however, the Census Bureau will still use GPS-enabled handheld computers to verify household locations in 2009, according to testimony from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez on April 3rd. Wouldn’t it be great to have GPS coordinates associated with each census return?

Here is more information:

Genealogy law lesson of the day:

Why are census records held for 72 years (other than the obvious public policy reasons)? Because of 36 C.F.R. §1256.4 (a)(3), which states the following:

“NARA will not grant access to restricted census and survey records of the Bureau of the Census less than 72 years old containing data identifying individuals enumerated in population censuses in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 2108(b).”

44 U.S.C. 2108(b) simply states that agreements between the Census Bureau and the National Archives, such as the 72-year agreement, become law. As to why it is 72 years and not 10 or 100 years, supposedly 72 was chosen because it was the average lifespan of Americans when the agreement was made.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

5 Comments

  1. You need to update your citation to the CFR provision mandating confidentiality for 72 years. It is no longer stated in:
    36 C.F.R. § 1256.4
    But is now stated in both:
    36 C.F.R. § 1256.24, and
    36 C.F.R. § 1256.28

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