The Census Was Not Created for Genealogists

Despite lamentations to the contrary, the US Census is not taken to be a genealogical document. It is taken for a variety of governmental purposes and the data it contains is used by a host of governmental and private agencies.

It is not meant to provide a genealogical record for future generations. No census was ever taken as a means of providing a genealogical record for the future. Public records may provide information of use to genealogists, but those records were created for other reasons. That information was asked for other reasons. Military records, land records, pension records, court records, probate materials, and other records generated by a government body were not created to leave a genealogical record.

The census was not either.

Instead of lamenting the details of the US Census questionnaire, ask yourself

have I preserved all the unique materials in my possession?

Would your descendant want to find a record of you kvetching on Facebook about inadequate census questions (if the Facebook post was even preserved in twentysome years) or would they rather find copies of letters and other materials you had worked to preserve and perhaps even some writing about your own life?


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