Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Retention of 2010 US Census Data

There have been several blog posts in recent weeks about possible destruction of the 2010 US Census - e.g., Save 2010 Census - no images to be preserved on the Cape Cod Genealogical Society blog. Dick Eastman posted 2010 Census: No Images to be Preserved? expressing doubt that that was the case. The fear was that the actual census forms submitted by residents were not going to be preserved after the statistical data was obtained from them, and that genealogists would not be able to access any information about their ancestors.

The blog post NARA and the 2010 Census on the NARAtions blog by Paul Wester today seems to put those fears to rest. It states:

* The 2010 census is planned as an all-electronic census which will affect the format in which permanent records are preserved. The Census Bureau will scan the respondent questionnaires as part of its business process for compiling the census. The draft schedule calls for the permanent retention of the scanned digital images. These scanned images are the 21st century equivalent to the microfilm copies of census forms generated for previous decennial censuses.

* In addition, the Census Bureau is also proposing permanent retention for the unedited file containing response data, with linkage information to the scanned images. This means that once the census is opened to the public 72 years from the enumeration date of the 2010 census, genealogists will have two means of searching for their ancestors. They can search the database, which will contain all the data (including names and addresses) from the respondent forms. They can also use the database to locate and retrieve images of the forms themselves.

That seems very clear and concise - the 2010 census forms will be preserved in a digital format and there will be a digital index of the pertinent response data. And it will be made available in 2082. Case closed?

1 comment:

  1. Case closed. And I'm happy as long as the government has properly analyzed how long the data will remain on their storage media, and plan to copy to new storage media before that time elapses, repeatedly, over the next 7 decades.

    Because, if they forget that little bit, without paper backup, all the digital data could be lost.