The 2010 Census information released…has it really been 10 years?

Just recently the Census Bureau released the first of its 2010 Census statistics for Washington State.  And more information will be forthcoming over the next year.

And that is so important for all of us in Seattle, King County and Washington State.  Why get excited?  Here are a few reasons why we should all care what it says.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislatures.  The first census was done clear back in 1790, by order of Thomas Jefferson.  That census still exists and gives an incredible look at our nation shortly after it’s founding.

“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

Today, Census data is used to by all levels of to government to define legislative districts, school districts and other special districts.

Census data is also an essential tool for business owners who use the demographic and economic data gathered to make strategic decisions that can spur and sustain economic development; these include selecting the location of retail stores or facilities, making informed marketing decisions, understanding customer demographics, and more.

And a really big reason…  Money!

Every year, the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to local, state and tribal governments based on census data. These data are used in many ways that can improve the quality of life for all citizens by:

  • Helping leaders determine where to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child-care and senior centers and more.
  • Helping fund community initiatives and programs important to immigrants – including education, job safety, English-language programs and enhanced legal services.
  • Helping implementation and evaluation of programs, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.
  • Assisting with planning for education, housing, health and other programs that reflect diversity in the community.

And finally, in this short list of reasons for people, especially people interested in family history, to celebrate the 2010 Census:  In just 72 years our future family members will be able to look us up in the Census lists, just as we can use Ancestry and other library resources to look at past census rolls (currently up to 1930 with 1940 scheduled to be released next year) and see our grandparents and great grandparents, and where they lived.

More information is being release all through the summer.  Look for it!

March Question of the Month: an irregular series

I’m doing geneological research and had trouble browsing the 1910 Census records due to insufficient information. The city of Lanark, Montana in 1910–what county was it in? what Township & Enumeration District was 1910 Lanark, Montana considered to be in?

Hello, and thank you for using our Ask a Librarian service.   Your request for information on the 1910 Census enumeration district for Lanark, Montana, was referred to the History Department for a response.

The present location of Lanark, Montana (it is not currently listed as a place on Montana State Highway Maps, but is on U.S. Route 2, between Bainville and Culbertson near the North Dakota border) is in Roosevelt County. However, Roosevelt County was not created until 1919 from Sheridan County, which in turn was created in 1913 from Valley County. Valley County was created in 1893 from Dawson County. Continue reading “March Question of the Month: an irregular series”

Genealogy 101: What is the census and how can it help me with my family history?

Census TakerCensus records are amongst the most widely used government records for family history research.  The U.S. Congress authorized the first nationwide census in 1790.  A census has continued to be taken every ten years.  The 2010 Census is coming soon. Information from the 1790-1930 U.S. censuses is available to the public.  More recent censuses are restricted for 72 years because of rights to privacy.  You can even view the countdown clock for access to the U.S. 1940 Census

The primary reason for taking the Census is to determine the representation in Congress from political districts in each state.  The government also uses the censuses to gather other details about individuals.

The 1790-1840 censuses listed the names of the heads of free households and statistics for all members of the households, both free and Continue reading “Genealogy 101: What is the census and how can it help me with my family history?”

Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing a House History

People who live in old houses must sometimes be aware of the residents who came before them. Just for the briefest time, there may be a shadow, or a current of air—something that suggests another presence or, perhaps, earlier residents. Sometimes they have left some physical object behind, tossed in a corner somewhere … that is how I came to own the drill bit.

Sitting in my (their) living room, I often wondered about the owners before me—what kind of people were they? How did they live? Living in their house, I felt curiosity, but only vague kinship, until the day I discovered, wedged in an unfinished basement wall, a carpenter’s bit from a brace and bit. Wedged pretty tight, too—I had to work to gouge it out. But holding it in my hand, I felt a very strong sense of the man who had worked there years ago, gotten it wedged into the wall, and finally abandoned it after some effort to remove it. (I could see very old chisel marks around where the bit had been.) This was so like something I might do, that I wanted to meet the man who had left the bit behind—but Continue reading “Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing a House History”