Census 2010

18 04 2010

I started working on a family tree last year.  Ancestry.com has scanned copies of old military records, ship’s passenger lists, birth records, and old hand written Census records.

With just a couple clicks I can see my great-grandfather’s name handwritten by a census worker long ago.  Grandpa Christmas is listed as a boy of only five years old living with a family I never knew.

These records are my only link to this long lost family.  I don’t have any pictures of my grandpa and certainly not of his father.  I know next to nothing about them…  all I have are a list of names, ages, occupations (farmers) and places of birth from this one census form.  This scant bit of detail is enough to enable your search to continue backwards to the previous generation, growing your family tree one branch at a time.  But of course the detail doesn’t tell you anything about these people.  Was Grandpa Christmas a well mannered kid who liked to skip stones across the lake, or a hellion who taunted animals and liked to trip his siblings?

The law states that these census forms must remain secret for 70 years.

Our survey form came in the mail a few months back.  I filled it in and showed it to my daughter, asking her to try hard to remember it.  I told her that when she’s a seventy-seven year old woman she might once again see this very same piece of paper with daddy’s handwriting on it.

Every time I think of it I tear up.  The thought that my now dissolving family may leave not a trace…  photographs get lost, stories forgotten, mementos thrown away or destroyed as they are meaningless to future generations.  This handwritten survey on white paper with blue boxes may be all that my daughter or her granddaughter will be able to point to and say, “I remember you daddy.”

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