Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Census Facts

1900 Census showing the Copeland family in Independence, Montgomery County, Kansas. Note that names were mispelled by the enumerator (counter). Ostin should be Austin, Claracy should be Clarissa, Danil should be Daniel. (These mispellings were probably due to the fact that Abner was from North Carolina, and this was the way that he pronounced his children's names to the ennumerator!) This was an invaluable census because it provide information on the family members, as well as an insight to Abner's 'accent'! NOTE that his 2 eldest sons (Samuel Gilbert and Elbert Epps) do not appear on this census because they had already moved from the family farm to their own farms.

The census is a great place for finding family information. So, I thought I would participate in the 2010 census. I went through the training as a census enumerator (counter) and actually went on one census visit with 3 colleagues. Then I was offered a position back at my old employer, so I left. In a way, I'm glad that I did.

Because of anti-government feelings and fears from illegal immigrants, this year's census takers faced dangers that previous census takers did not. I read stories of people being shot at, dragged into homes against their will (census takers are advised to stand outside the home), having dogs set on them, and so on.

I had a friend who worked within the census headquarters. I asked her about these stories. She said that in Santa Clara Valley, a census employee (not a census enumerator) was visiting an area. When he knocked on the door, a woman answered and told him to get off her property and pointed a gun at him. He left and called the police, as required by the census policy. The police arrived and knocked on the door. The woman answered again with the gun pointing at them. They had to shoot her dead.

Census results are not revealed to the public for 72 years. So until then, we won't know whether this was a successful census at all. By law, all households were supposed to return their forms by April 1st. But due to anti government sentiment, fear and ignorance of the process, and the lack of members in the household who spoke/ read English - the U.S. Government had to spend millions training census enumerators and other census staff to process results of the door-to-door census. In addition, translators and translation materials had to be provided in 47 languages. This shows a great commitment by the U.S. Government to account for its population as well as to ensure that federal funds reach the city governments that need the money for community programs.

I hope you all answered the Census when it came to your homes, or that you were polite to the census enumerators who came to your door if you didn't.

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