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1940 Census Records to be Released by the Government Include 21 Million Still Alive

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posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 08:17 AM

1940 Census Records Include 21 Million Still Alive

When the 1940 census records are released, Verla Morris can consider herself a part of living history.

The 99-year-old Morris will get to experience the novelty of seeing her own name and details about her life in the records being released online Monday after 72 years of confidentiality expires.

Morris is one of more than 21 million people alive in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who were counted in the 16th federal decennial census. The survey documents the tumultuous decade of the 1930s transformed by the Great Depression and black migration from the rural South.

...access to the records will be free online.

So much for the whole confidentiality thing.

From another article:

With privacy guaranteed, people opened up. They let the census-takers into their homes and they answered all kinds of questions. Everyone spoke openly of their living arrangements, their jobs, their families, their faith and a whole lot more.

"In 1952, the director of the Census Bureau and the National Archivist agreed that keeping census records private for 72 years balanced public release of federal records with the tradition of confidentiality," explains the Census Bureau's Glasier. In other words, 72 years was considered at the time to be longer than most lifespans.


Did you live too long? Sorry. The government only protects your privacy for just a part of your life.

Apparently, the total US population at that time was 132 million. So that means more than 1 in 10 people who gave their information under the representation it would remain private at that time, find out otherwise.


posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 08:39 AM
Sorry, but I can't find any thing to be outraged about in this. Seventy two years is pretty much a lifetime. And things that people might have wanted to keep secret in 1940 might not be an issue any more. Lets take for example someone 18 who was in an interracial marriage that their parents didn't know about in 1940. Odds are that even if the person who took the census is still alive, the parents are long dead, and besides, the culture is a hundred fold more accepting of such than it was in 1940. Seventy two years of privacy seems pretty reasonable to me. Privacy has been preserved for something close to the average human lifespan, and I think that is reasonable. Take the info from the 1930 census and reference against the 1940 Census and we can get a pretty good idea of the effects of the depression on individuals and in ten years we can compare the 1940 to the 1950 and see the effects of WWII and the post war time frame. The raw data of course has been available for some time so we know the big picture this allows us to see the little pictures. Imagine seeing a grandparent's name in the 1930 Census as living and working in Oklahoma and in the 1940 in California. There is a story there, it may not be as intense or as interesting as Grapes of Wrath, but it's your families story and you might not know it.

posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 08:41 AM
least here in blighty its 100 years + the time it takes the national archives to actually get the data sorted so here atleast i doubt there will be more than a few people who were babies then still alive

posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 08:46 AM
reply to post by jefwane

Originally posted by jefwane
...things that people might have wanted to keep secret in 1940 might not be an issue any more.

I notice you use the word 'might'.

Why does the government get to decide what's important for me to keep private?

Originally posted by jefwane
The raw data of course has been available for some time so we know the big picture this allows us to see the little pictures.

Which makes this even worse. Releasing the individual details on those still alive does little to advance our aggregate understanding of the numbers.

You may not have a problem with the government making one representation about your privacy and then doing the opposite. But I think this example teaches a valuable lesson.

posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 08:55 AM
Here in the UK I was one of the 2011 'census rebels'. It wasn't so much whether the info would eventually be released, it wasn't even the distinct possibility that our details might be hacked. It was the strongarm tactics of the government. the lengthy and intrusive details required and the fact that our info was being managed by an arms dealer that I objected to. Plus it was part of some sort of 'harmonisation' with the EU and a lot of us in Europe are opposed to attempts to create some sort of federal state.
There were threats of fines up to £1,000 and a criminal record. Plus there was much militaristic language - ie those who didnt 'comply' were going to be visited by 'an army of enforcers'. I don't like being bullied.
edit on 2-4-2012 by starchild10 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 2 2012 @ 09:01 AM
reply to post by loam

The lesson being that the government lies. We know this. Given the myriad of other abuses committed by the government since 1940 you gotta admit this is a pretty pedestrian example.
I've filled out 2 Census since being an adult. The long form in 2000 and the short in 2010. People that know me could probably have filled most of it out for me. My race is obvious, anyone who knows me knows my religion, knows how many kids I have, and could probably guess at my income based on what I do. I don't remember any questions on either that I filled out that I would be sensitive about 72 years later. I could see some uncomfortable questions for some though so you may have a minor point. Imagine the question "Grandma in 1940 you were a Catholic, but we've been going to a Protestant church my whole life, what's up with that?"

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