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 ‘history’

NYT: New York Census Data, Centuries Old, Is Now Online

Friday, July 27th, 2012

H/t to Sam Roberts at the New York Times for this (full article HERE):

What was Al Capone’s address? Where did Jonas Salk live? What did John D. Rockefeller list as his occupation? Whom did Franklin D. Roosevelt list as the head of his household in 1925?

The New York State Archives and Library has collaborated with Ancestry.com to provide searchable versions of the recently released 1940 United States census; New York State censuses from 1892, 1915 and 1925; and marriage, draft and other records dating to the 17th century.

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).

Racebox.org

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

This is an interesting (and extremely simple) web site that displays what the “race question” on census forms has looked like since 1790. It’s definitely worth checking out: Racebox.org

A great historical census slideshow

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Thanks to CNET News for this wonderful slideshow!

The historical impact of technology on the 2010 Census

Friday, March 12th, 2010

As the 2010 Census approaches, more and more questions are pouring in about the history of the decennial census –spanning  from the 1790 Census to the present. From the Census Bureau’s self-recorded history, we’d like to give a hat tip to Vector1media.com for highlighting the following points about the progression of  technology and the census:

  • 1890 is the first year that census workers were given detailed maps to help complete their tasks, and it’s also the same year that an electric tabulating system was utilized for the count
  • 1950 was the first time a computer was used to tabulate results, and it was also the first computer designed for civilian use
  • 1960 was the first time that census results were digitally recorded (on magnetic tape)
  • 1970 was the first time that census data products were made available digitally on magnetic tape.
  • 1980 saw the creation of the State Data Center Program for easier access to digital data on computer tapes
  • 1990 was the year that the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER), computer-based maps, was introduced. It also was the first year that data was released on CD-ROM
  • 2000 was when the Internet became the primary means of distributing Census data
  • 2010 won’t include the “long form” because this more detailed collection has been converted to the ongoing American Community Survey
  • Additionally, the Census Bureau sent out a media advisory today with historical Census Bureau information. Enjoy it here:

    1790
    (See < http://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/overview/1790.html>
    for more information)
    – Census Day was Aug. 2 (the first Monday of the month).
    – Six questions were asked.
    – The census was conducted in the 13 original states as well as the
    districts of Maine, Vermont, Kentucky and the Southwest Territory
    (Tennessee).
    – U.S. marshals, who conducted the census, submitted their results to
    Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, nominal director of the census.
    – President George Washington delivered the first “State of the Union”
    address on Jan. 8, 1790.
    – Rhode Island entered the Union as the 13th state, May 29, 1790.
    – U.S. population: 3.9 million. (more…)

    Retrospective: Statistical Sampling

    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

    The use of statistical sampling has been a hot political topic that caused a significant amount of partisan debate, discussion, and allegations prior to Robert M. Groves’ U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau. However this is not a new issue for the decennial headcount. For the readers of this blog who are interested in the history of the sampling dilemma, please check out this article from Science News Online (click here!) about the sampling debate in the days that led up to the 2000 headcount. The result of the  1999/2000 controversy was a ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the case of the Department of Commerce vs. The United States House of Representatives that banned sampling from being used in decennial census counts.