As genealogists we understand the importance and value of the census. If you’re like me, you’re excited that this year is a census year. I’ve always loved filling out the census form and see it as a privilege, as well as an obligation. I spent my first five years after college working for the Population Reference Bureau, a non-profit clearinghouse for demographic information. We used census data all the time. Then when I got into genealogy the census became even more important.
I received my census mailing this week and opened the envelope eagerly. This year, of course, I did not find a form to fill out. Instead, I found a code to enter when I went to the URL provided in the mailing. Filling out the form was quick–there were very few questions to answer. There are just two people in my household (my husband and me) and we have a straightforward relationship (opposite sex, married). I found it very interesting to read the various relationship options and was pleased at how inclusive it seemed to be.
The only challenge came in the Race section, when asked to provide origin. I actually checked my updated Ancestry DNA results so I could provide an accurate answer (“English, Irish”). But my husband wasn’t home and I wasn’t sure what to put for him. So I texted him for the answer (“Russian”). While I waited for his response, I took a look at various “Race” options and was kind tickled that I there were races I had to look up. I had never heard of Chamorro, for example: “a member of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands (including Guam).”
If you haven’t taken the Census yet and would like a preview of the questions, check out this Questions Asked on the Form page on the Census2020 website. It provides rationale for each question, which is interesting.
My 89-year-old father doesn’t have a computer and doesn’t use the Internet. I offered to fill out the form for him on my computer (he received the mailing with the personalized code) but he’s hoping the Census Bureau will eventually send an enumerator. (Presumably after the COVID-19 crisis is over.) He’s a social guy and would welcome the human interaction!
In any case, filling out the form was a thrill for me, as it is every ten years, and it’s making me very excited for the 1950 census to be released in April 2022!