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               April, 2010

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Collecting Census
  — by Charles Hansen

       Iensus year 2010, and the USA is again collecting the census as called for in the Constitution. The major reason was to select representatives for the House of Representatives, but over the years the census is used for a lot of other uses. Genealogists think it was made just for them, but that is not true and never has been. What is most important is to get a complete count of all the people of the USA. Today they use the pictures from satellites to find the houses, farms, lumber camps, hermits, campers, and people moving all the time, but it is still a huge undertaking to count everyone.

       I received two census forms, and filled out both made a copy of each and mailed them. I have a house for sale and right now it is vacant, so that is why I got two census forms. On a blog I found a URL for a map to see how well my state or locality are doing in returning their census forms. When I was writing this the average for the whole country is 20%, my state Washington is at 10% and my county about 8%.

       Iince the census are not released for 72 years after they are taken, the 2010 census will not be released till April 1, 2082 and I am pretty sure I will not be around to see it. The first census I will appear in is the 1950 census which will be released in 2022 so I hope to see myself in that one. My dad got to see himself in three census the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census.

       Ior the 1950 census the Air Force sent their planes all across the country mapping all the houses, farms, lumber camps and even hermits in their hide aways. The maps were cut up in to districts so each enumerator had a map of his area and knew where all the house were located in each of the 14,000 enumeration districts. The maps show rivers and that is important as rivers have a tendency to move, and it maybe the boundary of a state, so which state has more land or people and which state has less people. The job of collecting the census for 1950 was to take two weeks, and then the real job of checking, editing, coding and tabulating the data for an estimated 150 million people. All this was supposed to be done by December 31, 1952.

       Ihey had card sorters in 1950 and were busy typing the data onto the cards so the machines could sort the data, but his was not the first year they used card with holes to sort the census data. In 1890 when they started the census they had just finished sorting the data from the 1880 census, so a bureau statistician Dr. Herman Hollerith came up with the idea of punching holes in various places in cards, to represent facts like male; three children; farm family, etc. He then rigged a machine that the card would go through and be automatically counted and classified according to where the holes were in each card. For the 1950 census they used the same basic system but instead of mechanical counting for 1950 it was mostly electronic counting. Wonder what happened to all those cards from 1890?

       Iome of the expected numbers for 1950:  we would have grown by a solid 20 million, (the baby boomers) this was 30 years ahead of schedule. Women will out number men by about a million for the first time in history, and California will top the 10 million mark, which puts California up with New York and Pennsylvania in population. When will you first see yourself in a census?

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