There has been much interest amongt the public regarding the collecting of data for the 2010 census. For genealogists, the information is important but the wait to view the information is 72 years! To clarify, this is the first federal census that is all-electronic and will affect the format in which permanent records are preserved. The Census Bureau will scan the respondent questionnaires as part of its business process for compiling the census. The draft schedule calls for the permanent retention of the scanned digital images. These scanned images are the 21st equivalent to the microfilm copies of census forms generated for previous decennial censuses.
In addition, the Census Bureau is also proposing permanent retention for the unedited file containing response data, with linkage information to the scanned images. This means that once the census is opened to the public 72 years from the enumeration date of the 2010 census, genealogists will have two means of searching for their ancestors. The will be able to search the database from the respondent forms or directly retrieve images from the forms themselves.
Genealogists have been concerned as 72 years is a long time. Technology changes, systems can become corrupted. Without a paper copy, the question remains about the security of our census information.