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Be Counted

Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009, at 9:28 AM

Blooming "family" tree
Next year is a census year. There have been reports out there of census preparations and how this census will only have a few questions versus the long form of ten years ago. I didn't mind the long form - but hey - nobody asked me.

The census is an important tool for a myriad of reasons. But for me, it has been useful in doing genealogy. I don't work on this stuff every single day or spare moment. This is more an activity which happens to take hold of an afternoon or evening depending on the weather or other activities.

I have found the census data available on line to be invaluable in tracing the available family links over the years.

For one thing, the data collection was labor intensive. There had to be an actual person going to each family and gathering information. They gathered where they lived, who lived in the household, the ages, the occupation, the birthplaces (usually just states or countries if they immigrated from across the pond) of each resident. They also listed the birthplaces of the parents. The handwriting of most of the information gatherers were very good. This is was in the day when penmanship was a skill and really now could be called an art form.

There had to be someone who cared enough to maintain those records and instill in generations of folks the importance of keeping those records. It really is a little mind blowing. Then there has to be those folks who are scanning these records in today's digital world so the info is available on the information superhighway.

However, I am enough of a dork I wanted a visual aid. I am not computer savvy enough to use a digital map. I actually went to the bookstore and bought one of those laminated U.S. maps. You know the ones like the teachers had that pulled down from the overhead. I bought a packet of stars - the different colored ones to help me visualize the information.

What I wanted to do is "see" where all these families have lived. I wanted to be able to track this. I narrowed the stars down to approximate areas where the ancestors where born. Some of the actual places where in townships or precincts and luckily those don't change a heck of a lot. It is still a work in progress but my kids have descended from residents of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, Kansas and Wyoming.

Thanks to those census takers and keepers of the records long ago, I am able to connect several of the family location dots. Granted the next generation may not have any interest in this but perhaps some descendant in 2209 will.

Please take the time in 2010 to be counted. I know I will.

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The Census is a tool that was designed by the Constitution to be used to count population every 10 years. But also now as a way to designate tax spending and also our representation in Congress.

I am from Minnesota and in 1870 the past census records were destroyed in a fire. So the loss is immeasureable. An excellent place to find old geneology records is in Salt Lake City. The Mormons were good about keeping records and feeling like the past was worth remembering. I think the current is worth remembering and I too, will be counted.

-- Posted by fred2 on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 11:06 PM

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