Thursday, March 18, 2010

It took me less than five minutes to complete my United States census form for 2010. It was a complete disappointment. Ten questions. Seventy two years from now, in 2082, people will know my name, birthdate, self-identified race, telephone number (will they even have those then?), and the fact that I have a mortgage on my house.
I was expecting that they would want to know my occupation, birth place, and whether I liked Lady Gaga or not.

I use census records a lot while doing genealogy research. here is an example from 1870, with my great-great grandparents Elijah and Edna listed. Elijah worked at grist mill, grinding grain up to make flour (also sawing lumber). You can see that he and his brother Benjamin were a lot wealthier than their neighbors. The old census records provide a lot of information about people back then, data that you can't find anywhere else. So yeah, I was disappointed that they didn't ask more about me.

1870 census record (click to enlarge).

I'm old enough that this is the fifth census I have been counted.

- 1970, living on North Long Lake Road outside of Traverse City, Michigan with my parents and four siblings

- 1980, living near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with my parents and two siblings

- 1990, living in Tempe, Arizona with two other archaeology grad students

- 2000, living at my current house with the ex, who didn't want to be counted with me (should have paid attention to that one, right?)

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