My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘ancestry’

1940 Census results released by the Census Bureau after 72 years: Genealogists and history buffs rejoice

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Census Bureau swears to protect its data for 72 years. As such, today, the Census Bureau is releasing the 1940 Census results for the first time. The Census Bureau has provided a fairly simple mechanism for sorting through the basic information, with some pretty cool data visualization. And sites like MyTwoCensus.com advertising partner Ancestry.com (with over 1 billion 1940 Census records available) will surely be able to provide more in-depth results for users. (CBS News has provided some suggestions on how search for specific 1940 Census records.)

However, this data release is not without controversy. As The Washington Post writes:

The American Civil Liberties Union, for instance, has for more than 30 years opposed any unrestricted release of census records.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU, said harm could come from combining the rich 1940 Census data with other information.

“Computer technology today allows you to take information from different sources and combine it into a very high-resolution image of somebody’s life,” he said. “Each particular piece of information might just be one pixel, but when brought together, they become very intrusive.”

A document obtained from the National Archives by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that, in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau raised privacy concerns about the disclosure of the 1940 Census by the nation’s record-keeper.

Census Bureau spokesman Robert Bernstein said in an e-mail that any fears the data could be used to harm anyone living today “such as through identity theft” were alleviated when the National Archives said that no birthdates or Social Security numbers would be in the records. One 1940 Census question asked a sample group of more than 6 million people whether they had a Social Security number but did not ask for the number itself.

We’d love to hear any comments from amateur or professional genealogists or family tree-makers about how you feel the Census Bureau’s data has assisted you (or, on the contrary, any problems that you may have had while trying to access information).

Fact-Checking “20 Million” People Checked American On The 2000 Census

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

As MyTwoCensus suspected, 20 million people did NOT check “American” as their race on the 2000 Census form. The folks who claimed this  were mistaken. In 2000, 20 million people checked “American” as their ancestry. Here’s the full official response to our inquiry from the Census Bureau:

The data you are referring to (20 million “American” responses) come from
the Census 2000 question on Ancestry, not the race question or the Hispanic
origin question.  ”Ancestry” is a different question and concept from race
and Hispanic origin, and is collected in a different manner (open ended
question; sample of the population).

Ancestry refers to ethnic origin, descent, roots, heritage, or place of
birth of the person or the person’s ancestors.  The question on Ancestry
was not intended to measure the respondent’s degree of attachment to a
particular group, but simply to establish that the respondent had a
connection to and self-identified with a particular ethnic group.  The
American Community Survey’s ancestry question separately identifies and
publishes estimates of the population who identify as solely “American,”
and this information is available annual basis.

The Census 2000 report, “Ancestry: 2000″ <
www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/c2kbr-35.pdf> contains the following
information (page 3) –

Seven percent of the U.S. population reported their ancestry as American.
The number who reported American and no other ancestry increased from 12.4
million in 1990 to 20.2 million in 2000, the largest numerical growth of
any group during the 1990s (Footnote: American was considered a valid
ancestry response when it was the only ancestry provided by a respondent.).
This figure represents an increase of 63 percent, as the proportion rose
from 5.0 percent to 7.2 percent of the population.

So again, the 20 million “American” responses come from the question on
Ancestry, not the race question or the Hispanic origin question, and
“ancestry” is a different concept from race and Hispanic origin.

Indigenous immigrants to be counted for first time

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Indigenous immigrants — Native Americans from Central America and Mexico — will be counted for the first time on the 2010 Census.

ABC News has the full story from the Associated Press, which reports that these immigrants often need to check multiple boxes to describe their background. Language barriers and a lack of trust in the government are also obstacles:

The Census Bureau wants to change that in the 2010 count as it tallies immigrant indigenous groups for the first time ever, hoping to get a more complete snapshot of a growing segment of the immigrant population.

In the 2010 Census, the bureau will tabulate handwritten entries specifying that the respondent belongs to a Central American indigenous group such Maya, Nahua, Mixtec, or Purepecha. The list of different populations that end up being counted will be made public when results are released in 2011, said Michele Lowe, spokeswoman for the Census Bureau.

“We’re always striving to present an accurate portrait of the American people, and this is part of that effort,” said Lowe.

An accurate count is important to the indigenous groups themselves, and to the federal government, which allocates resources to state and local government according to the results.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates indigenous migrants make up about 17 percent of the country’s farm workers, and may represent up to 30 percent of California’s farm worker population. Florida also has a large indigenous immigrant population.