Be Counted: 2010 Census

Beginning in 1790, the US Federal Census has counted the country's population once every 10 years. In 1790, the entire population of the then United States was 3,929,000. (The State of South Carolina has an estimated population of 4.5 million today). While the US Constitution established the count to determine how to divy up the House of Representatives, and that remains the census's core mission, the distribution of monies has grown increasingly important. In 2010, each question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country. The deadline to return your Census form is April 17th.

Census data can be a goldmine for family historians. Of course, through the years, the amount of data collected on an individual person has varied widely. And, quite frankly, I was a little disappointed to receive the "10 Questions, 10 Minutes" short form this year. And, yes, I mailed our family's form back to the Census bureau in the postpaid envelope in full understanding that my answers will not be made public for 72 years (which is why 2012 is looked forward to with great anticipation -- the 1940 Census will be released. Both my parents will be listed!)

But as's April Monthly Update e-issue notes in its article "10 Census Questions that lead to More Answers" even short forms can help a diligent family historian:

One hundred years ago, you would have been answering 30+ census questions for each person in your household. Today you can use the time you saved answering the census to dig even further into the answers your ancestors gave years and years ago. That’s what we did. And in those old censuses, we found more than just straight answers: we also found clues that pointed us to other record collections at, where we discovered even more family details. We jotted down 10 of our favorite leads from those census records – complete with links – so you can follow our steps and quickly find success, too.

Read the full article to get clues on how to dig a little deeper and find your roots in the Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) subscription database that the Library provides inside all our facilities. Please note: You cannot get access to ALE from your home or office. You must use one of our public computers available inside one of our library buildings.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.