Sunday, December 16, 2007

Meme: Where Were You During the Censuses?

Tim Agazio, over at Genealogy Reviews Online, has an interesting post where he realizes that--much like one of his ne'er-do-well ancestors--he's had a bad case of census avoidance throughout much of his lifetime. I thought this would make a terrific meme, so here goes:

  • *1970 - I'm three years old, and the only surviving child of my almost 26-year-old parents (they had lost an infant son the previous year). My mother has told me that we missed the census because we were being transferred from one Southeast Alaskan village to another by The Salvation Army, a church and charitable organization that--like the military--moves its officers (ministers) around frequently. I believe that we were transferring from Metlakatla (Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area) to Kake (Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area) at that time.
  • *1980 - I was a new teenager, and we had only lived at our new home in the mountains north of Colville, Stevens County, Washington for less than a year. I have no recollection of this census, so I assume my nearly 36-year-old parents probably filled it out and mailed it while I was at school. My brother, almost six, and my 18-month-old sister would have been included in this census.
  • *1990 - I was a young, married woman of 23, expecting our first child in the fall. My husband and I worked and lived onsite as caretakers for a microfilm production company in west Spokane County that was located on what had once been one of many Nike missile bases protecting Fairchild Air Force Base during the Cold War. I remember filling out the census form and mailing it in. While I was interested in genealogy at that time and had been collecting information and stories from my relatives, I had not done any actual research in any kind of documents or records. As an employee of a microfilm company, I had no idea at the time how much microfilm would feature in my everyday future life!
  • *2000 - Our family of four (ages 43, 33, 9 and 6) lived in our current home within the city limits of Spokane, Washington, and I was well into genealogical research, which prompted me to fill out our (short) census form using my maiden and married surnames, to ensure future generations would know my maiden name.
  • *2005 - We participated in the American Community Survey of 2005. It is a minor census conducted by the federal government of selected homes in selected communities, which started in 1996 and continues on an annual basis. The form must have been a dozen pages long, and it focused greatly on the economics of our household: whether we rented or were buying our home, our monthly mortgage payments, what type of heating we used and the cost of our utility bills, how many bathrooms we had (ha! that's a joke! there wasn't a box to check for "not enough"!), etc. Again, I used my maiden and married surnames, and our ages that year were 48, 38, 14 and 11.
I appear in four out of five censuses, a much better record than Tim! How about you? Will your descendants be muttering under their collective breaths, wondering where in the world you were hiding?
Post a Comment