(US( 2020 Census Goes Digital-Invitations in Mail Starting March 12

Jan Meisels Allen


As genealogists we should be excited about the upcoming 2020 US Census! Census is an important genealogical tool and it Is important for future generations that we complete and preserve a copy! Mandated by the US Constitution, the US has held a decennial census starting in 1790, albeit the questions and amount of information collected has grown and then shrunk over the decades.  To read more go to:  https://2020census.gov/


Starting March 12, US households will be invited to and expected to participate in the decennial census. For the first time the US census will be digital rather than the pen or pencil to paper we are accustomed to. We are expected to go to https://my2020census.gov/  to fill out the form.  It will be open to the public through July 31. Based on an earlier test run the Census Bureau expect about six out ten households to fill out the form online. For those who have limited Internet access or prefer to stay offline the Bureau will also be collecting census responses over the phone and on paper forms scheduled to arrive in mid-March, and then in early April to every household that has not responded by then.  Beginning in mid-May, it's planning to send workers equipped with an iPhone app to collect and deliver information about people in households that have not self-responded to the census.

To see the questions on the 2020 US census go to: https://tinyurl.com/yxlmq2dh

Original url:


For more information on the questions go to:



There is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census despite attempts by the Administration to  include it which was stopped by the US Supreme Court last year.


The webform and call centers are available in 13 languages.


It is important to complete the form. The results of the count are used to redraw voting districts and redistribute Congressional seats, Electoral votes and an estimate $1.5 trillion a year in federal spending among the states.


The bureau has until the end of December to start releasing the results of the 2020 census, beginning with the latest state population counts.


Your personal information is secure according to the Bureau as in dry runs they have not identified any census data that have been compromised. As a precaution for 2020, the bureau is blocking IP addresses based outside of the U.S. from accessing the online form.  The data will be encrypted, and both the field staff and office staff who access it will only be able to log into the system using two-factor authentication.

To learn a bit more about the background and technology used to find the households and what the census takers will use to as they take to the street to find the non-responders see: https://www.wired.com/story/us-census-2020-goes-digital/


To try to prevent a government website “blowout” the bureau is trying to pace web traffic by staggering the mailing of letters that direct most U.S. households to https://my2020census.gov/ .  While the Bureau is expecting about 120,000 users on the census website at the same time, the bureau has been trying to build a system at least five times as strong to handle 600,000 concurrent users. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says it recently discovered the IT system that the bureau was planning to rely on as its primary system for collecting online responses could not handle 600,000 concurrent users "without experiencing performance issues,--basically a slow down in performance”. The bureau switched to an in-house system that was intended to be the backup. They also ordered backup printed forms just in case.

As genealogists we should also copy-scan in the form or take a photoshot for our families’ next generations of family historians. Remember, the census will not be released for 72 years so the 2020 census won’t be released until 2092. (With the 72 embargo the 1950 US census will be released April 1, 2022).


For more information see:




Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee



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