2020 US Census - further thoughts #general

jeremy frankel

I would like to thank Stephen Weinstein et al for their responses to my original posting about the genealogical value of the 2020 US Census.

As Stephen succinctly notes, the information contained in any record gathering process that may be of genealogical value is but an "accidental benefit." Admittedly each record is but a snapshot in time, however, when one puts together census records, ship manifests, voter records, city directories, etc, it all becomes a moving image of our families' progression through time and place.

That said, and with the plethora of documents available to us that were created 50–100 years ago, if we were to peer into the gloom of the future, what kind of "records" will be available to the genealogist of the future, who is trying to create a picture of their family in 2020? Where are the city directories? Where are the manifests? Where are the phone books? And as we have now seen, the census is not much more helpful other other than just stating who was living when and where and how people in a household were related to one another. Better than nothing, I suppose.

How will people do genealogy in 2120, or as some have opined, the whole genealogical enterprise will be a thing of the past!

Jeremy G Frankel
ex-Edgware, Middlesex, England
now Sacramento, California, USA


I have long been concerned with the thought  that all of the historical documents which historians have used to bring us biographies of long gone men and woman are no longer being created.  
Where are the letters? Could so many of the important historical books have been written without access to troves of letters?
I have no confidence that whatever is stored in the cloud or in some archive will be available 50, 75, 100 years from now.

Jim Gutterman

I think things and records etc will first have to evolve as different electronic capabilities, software etc also develop. For instance, those of us  family trees we put out with Ancestry and other services will make things hugely easier for subsequent generations. Births, deaths, citizenship will likely be recorded n stored electronically by various govt or other entities. Just in general, the hunt will be different, but imo will be easier to find things. No more poring over handwritten n often inaaccurate manifests...

James Gutterman <james.gutterman@...>



At the IAJGS conference in Boston in 2013, I attended a session where we were told that groups like Geni would "soon" have a nearly-complete global family tree on-line.  My comment at the time was that this would convert genealogy from a pleasurable hobby into middle-school math: people who couldn't work out the answers themselves would simply go on-line to find them.  I don't remember what they meant by "soon," but I'll bet it is well before 2092, when the results of the 2020 census become publicly available.  I doubt anyone in 2092 will be upset much by what isn't in this year's census.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Yale Zussman