Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Census Question

This is the 1910 Census for Ft. Smith Arkansas. If you biggie the photo you can see the top person is George W. Dexter.  If you look at the last family on this snippet you see Roy Harrison. It shows Roy and his wife Bessie have a son, Frank.  Well, Bessie was George W. Dexter's daughter. Her son Frank was my maternal grandfather -- a wonderful man and a most excellent grandpa who went to heaven in 2000.

It's fascinating to compare the census forms over time -- how the questions reflected what was important to us.  I just looked at our 2010 form.  Does it make sense to ask about marriage anymore? Does the government really care whether people are married any more?

Back to my question from yesterday.  The whole population count = dollars for particular communities issue bugs me. That isn't what the original idea of the census was.  Of course, more densely populated areas have higher representation rates in Congress, and those people can use the power of the purse to benefit their district -- but for a particular ethnic group only?

On the 2010 form in the area indicating "race" there's a place you can put "other" and fill it in.  What if everyone put "American"...would that tell them something about how many of us prefer to be known?

It reminds me of my husband's story about when he first entered the military.  He had to have dog tags. They wanted him to identify his religion for his dog tags.  He said, "Christian."  They said, "no, what denomination?" He said, "Christian." They said, "no, you have to be Catholic or Protestant."  Oh yes, he agreed to be a protest-ant!

I'm really in prayer about this. I don't want it to come across as insensitive ranting. I'm really trying to understand how I perpetuate these attitudes in my own life. I'm open to ideas from you all!

By the way, the Census has a cool map that shows you which counties have the highest compliance in sending in the forms.  If you're the competitive type, you can look at the neighborhood level and find out which neighborhood is more compliant to government directives...or less.  Right now Montana and the Dakotas have the highest mail in rate.  Guess there's nothing much else to do if the snow is still on the ground.

1 comment:

Mary said...

It's very interesting to see the difference in what used to be on the census vs. what is there now.
Too funny about your husband's dog tags! My husband had to actually put a religion on it, not just say he was Protestant.