When we were contacted by a census worker this past spring, I gave the process very little thought. It seemed fairly irrelevant to my life now or down the road.
But my attitude has shifted, having recently stumbled upon Thom Patterson's article What the census can teach us about ourselves. C
ensus records connect past and future — whichever direction you look.
The data collected last year will give the "future" a window to the past, providing our great-grandchildren valuable insight about how we lived in the first part of the 21st century.
"Basic population statistics are released soon after each census is tabulated," Patterson wrote.
"However, for privacy protection, documents with names and personal details of respondents aren't released for 72 years."
So fast-forward to 2082. What interesting tidbits will future family historians uncover about our lives? Patterson wrote, for example, that the effects of the recession will be evident to future historians by the number households with families doubling-up or adult children living with their parents.
But most of Patterson's article
discusses the value of past census records in our lives today. They can offer key information about previously unknown or misunderstood pieces of our family history.
My husband's family has recently uncovered some new and surprising information about his grandmother and her family — all because of census information gathered a century ago. Patterson provides some great insights about what information census records provide — and how to find it. Ancestry.com
is a great place to start sifting around for information about your ancestors (as far back as 1790). The 1930 census is the most recent census details released. You may be surprised by what you'll find ….