‘Return to the Future: Your 2020 Census’

It seems like years have passed since we starting preparing for the 2020 census at libraries across the state! Since then, the nation has experienced many ups and downs. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 census has continued to make headlines. In March, the Census Bureau had delayed field operations for the census until a new schedule was finalized. Data collection for the 2020 census is final on Sept.30, so now is the time to encourage the public to complete it if they haven’t already done so. Patrons can go online, call 844-330-2020 or mail back the form they received in the mail in order to complete the census. For patrons who speak languages other than English, see the responding by phone section on the census page. Census workers are now going door-to-door across the nation, making phone calls and sending email to those who haven’t responded. The goal is to get every single person counted by the deadline.

Because libraries have not been open, we’ve experienced a gap in our ability to promote the 2020 census. As we return to serving the public, libraries that are open by appointment can welcome patrons to answer the census at their library. Libraries not yet open can still create displays, offer handouts during curbside service and hang signs to encourage patrons to answer the 2020 census now. Libraries remain an essential part of the effort to notify the public that there is only one month left to finish this momentous task! We still have at least 20% of Hoosiers to count in September. Hoosiers depend on this once-in-a-decade count to shape the future of our legislative representation, public services and fiscal planning for all Indiana neighborhoods. The people won’t be counted one-by-one again until 2030.

For the past two years, 2020 census supporters have used creative strategies for reminding the public to answer the census. In Circle Pines, Minnesota, a city councilman dressed up as Census Man to bring attention to the importance of the 2020 census for apportionment. Not to be topped, the Chicago mayor announced last month that the Census Cowboy would arrive on horseback to help out in neighborhoods with low counts. It’s here that people will most need the public services funded using census counts. Here in Indiana, people can use our Race for a Complete Count graphics to view the progress of different areas of the state. If response rates aren’t measuring up in your part of Indiana, it’s not too late to make a difference. Our goal is to remind people as much as possible during this last month. Our Census in Indiana website is full of ideas and resources.

The new 2020 census deadline, while extended due to COVID-19, is still very tight. We need to amplify our message even louder for communities with low counts. We’ll share additional tools and tips on Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. in our webinar, “Return to the Future: Your 2020 Census.” Register for the webinar here. You can help census response in your community by requesting a partnership specialist from the Census Bureau to set up a mobile questionnaire assistance event. Census workers will set up socially-distanced tables for online response to the census on site. Contact the Indiana State Data Center for details.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

2020 census operations continue; self-response deadline extended

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic created delays in the Census Bureau’s 2020 census operations, the 2020 census continues to move forward. Because of the pause due to the pandemic, it is important for librarians to get the word out that it’s not too late to participate in the census. U.S. residents now have until Oct. 31 to use self-response methods to complete the forms for their households.Beginning on Aug. 11, the Census Bureau plans to send out workers for the non-response follow-up part of census operations. Census workers will be clearly identified as they go door-to-door to visit homes. They will operate through Oct. 31 to help residents complete questionnaires until every household is counted.

This means July is a key month to remind library patrons to count their own households before a census worker comes to their door. Librarians can instruct patrons to follow the steps below in order to help them complete the census:

  • Go to the Census Bureau’s online portal and enter the Census ID they received in the mail. If they don’t have a Census ID, click the button that says Start Questionnaire, then click the link that says “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” and follow the prompts.

OR

  • Call the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020 for English, or at 844-468-2020 for Spanish. For deaf assistance and languages other than English, see responding by phone.

OR

  • Fill out the 2020 Census form they received in the mail and mail it back.

It’s that easy, and it should only take 10 minutes!

It is important to continue providing information about the 2020 census to ensure a complete and accurate count of our communities. This once-per-decade count will determine political representation, federal and state funding and planning decisions for the next 10 years. Find outreach materials on the Census Bureau’s website and Indiana’s 2020 Census website.

Library patrons might also be interested in 2020 census jobs being offered by the Census Bureau. Patrons can apply for jobs here.

The State Data Center at the Indiana State Library is here to help you with questions and further outreach through Oct. 31. Contact us here.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

2020 Census outreach

The U.S. Census Bureau held a kick-off for the 2020 Census ad campaign Tuesday, Jan. 14. For each decennial census, the Census Bureau hires an agency to conduct research and distribute messaging to encourage participation in the U.S. Census. The 2020 campaign, according to a Jan. 14 press release, “employs multi-language ads, partnerships and trusted voices.” The Census Bureau’s tagline, revealed in 2019 is “Shape your Future. Start here.” Examples of the new ads are available here. Census partners are encouraged to have local organizations use the national campaign materials in news media, social media and other outlets.

Efforts to publicize the census have been underway in Indiana for the past several years. The Philanthropy Alliance of Indiana made it a priority to connect its members with census resources early on in the state’s efforts. The Indiana State Library’s State Data Center has worked closely with the Indiana Business Research Center and the Indiana Department of Administration to coordinate efforts at the state level. The IBRC maintains the Census in Indiana website, a “for Hoosiers by Hoosiers” resource for digital and print materials promoting the 2020 census.

New on the site is a Promotional Tool Kit section which includes images and widgets for your websites. For librarians, there is a 2020 Census Toolkit containing important dates in the census, talking points and FAQs for Indiana libraries, an online resource list and ideas for displays and programs. The Census Bureau’s Facebook and Twitter pages contain daily updates about 2020 Census promotion. The State Data Center’s Facebook and Twitter pages post national, state and local updates about the 2020 census.

In mid-March, most U.S. households will receive an invitation to fill out the census online. A series of mailings will follow until each household completes the census online, by paper form or via telephone.

Please contact the library’s State Data Center for questions about the 2020 Census.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch to chair Indiana 2020 Census Complete Count Committee

Here at the Indiana State Library, our Indiana State Data Center Program has had an official partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau since 1978. We share statistical information and talk about the importance of access to good public data on a daily basis. Each decade, however, our efforts with the Census Bureau ramp up and we help “count everyone once, only once, in the right place” as of Census Day, April 1. The State of Indiana includes multiple stakeholders who take part in this effort.

On Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced that Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch will lead Indiana’s statewide Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. The goal of the committee is to encourage all Hoosiers to answer the census. Indiana’s CCC kick-off meeting will be Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, at 1 p.m. Eastern in the Indiana Government Center South Auditorium. You are invited. Register for the meeting here

The 2020 Census will be the very first census that provides online response. People can answer via their smartphones, use their home computers and laptops or go to their local library and use a public computer terminal. Because of this, libraries will see increased traffic next year during March and April. Indiana librarians will receive questions about what the census does and why the Census Bureau counts people. We will need to provide help with how it’s done.

This May, the American Library Association released its Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census. It explains the importance of the 2020 Census and also addresses the risks that we face if groups of people are undercounted in 2020. This is the reason that CCCs and promotional campaigns carry weight. Our efforts will impact the accuracy and completeness of next year’s count. Libraries are trusted voices, and librarians can make efforts to prepare ourselves to inform our communities.

Start learning about the census with Census Bureau’s Shape Your Future. Start Here website. Get details about promoting the census locally on the 2020 Census in Indiana website. Register and attend the CCC kick-off on Monday, Aug. 19 to learn more!

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Libraries and the 2020 census

In December of last year, Kathy Kozenski from the Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana and I brought a giant 15′ x 21′ Indiana floor map1 to the Vigo County Public Library for a program called “Get On The Map!” Library patrons, ages 3 to 15, joined us in learning about state geography as we walked in socked feet across cities, lakes, rivers and forests.

Photo courtesy of Lauri Chandler, Youth Services Manager at the Vigo County Public Library.

We discussed the cardinal directions and talked with the students about where they had lived and traveled, and where they would like to go in the future. Despite their young ages, many had already been outside of the state and even outside of the country. We asked students to identify and locate map features. Lake Michigan, one of the map’s prominent features, was a favorite.

We asked what we might find in Indiana cities or towns. Answers were:

“Buildings!”
“Roads!”
“Trees!”
“Pets!”
“Cars!”

Part of my reason for this question was to introduce the idea of the census, so we asked what else a city or town needed in order to have all of these things.

“People!,” they answered.

This provided us with a chance to discuss how many people live in different areas, and that when there are more people we need more resources. We talked about the upcoming 2020 census, why we count people and why it is important to get an accurate count so that resources can be distributed where they are needed.

We followed our map exploration with the storied adventures of Fred the Fish. Made of a small piece of muslin, Fred swam in a river – a plastic container of water – next to several different sources of pollution. We poured in small amounts of dirt, oil and trash. We demonstrated the effects of these things on Fred, and talked about how important it is to notice the effects of human population on the surrounding environment.

With the 2020 Census approaching, librarians are on the forefront of community outreach, as our jobs will involve helping patrons report data to the federal government. This will be the first U.S. census in history to provide the opportunity for online response, and we expect to welcome our patrons to answer the census at our public computers.

In October of 2018, the American Library Association issued a policy brief entitled Libraries and the 2020 Census Vital Partners for a Complete Count that explains how libraries act as “trusted partners in achieving a complete count in the 2020 census” by:

  • Delivering information about the census and hosting community outreach activities
  • Providing internet access to enable respondents to complete the census form online
  • Serving as trusted messengers, including in hard-to-count communities
  • Training data users and providing access to census statistics for businesses and community members.

ALA recently hosted a free webinar, “Libraries and the 2020 Census” through its Chapter Advocacy Exchange. You can view the webinar here. The ALA president, assistant director of government relations and deputy director of public policy addressed the important role libraries play in ensuring a complete and accurate count of people. It featured librarians planning 2020 census outreach in Montana, California and Illinois.

In Indiana, there are several ways we can participate in planning for the 2020 census, which will take place a year from now, in March and April of 2020. Local communities are building Complete Count Committees, also known as CCCs, to encourage participation. At your library, you can help by hosting outreach efforts from the Census Bureau, promoting census jobs as they are available and incorporating census information in newsletters, social media and websites. Last week, the Census Bureau released its 2020 promotional guidelines. You can retrieve the PDF here.

For more information about the 2020 census in Indiana and how you can help, visit the Census in Indiana website. Follow the State Data Center on Facebook and Twitter for census messages and contact us at the Indiana State Library with questions.

1. GENI loans out giant traveling floor maps of Indiana to libraries and schools along with curriculum guides and a trunk full of learning tools.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference & Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Dealing with difficult ancestors: Tips and tricks for finding those elusive family members

Sometimes in genealogy research, the pieces just don’t come together. No one seems to be living where you expect them to be, records have gone missing and you just can’t make any connections between generations.

Although not exhaustive, this guide introduces some search techniques that may help you find those elusive ancestors.

Write down everything you know about the person.

Writing down his or her life events in chronological order shows where you may have gaps in your research, such as census records you have not yet found. A timeline also suggests places to look for additional records if your ancestor lived through a war or other major historical event. Noting the places where your ancestor lived provides clues to the geographic area where your ancestor’s parents may be found.

Filling in those three missing censuses may well hold the key to John Whittaker’s family. Note the place of birth as Pennsylvania, meaning John’s parents lived there at some point. Also note the biographical details of marriage in a Catholic church and burial in an Independent Order of Odd Fellows cemetery.

Don’t just note places of residence. Fill in social details such as religious affiliation, political affiliation, club and society membership and other details you may know about your ancestor. These details will be useful later.

Looking at your timeline, information such as your ancestor’s birth date and place provides indirect details about his or her parents. For example, the place of birth tells you where the family was living at the time, while the date of birth tells you the minimum likely age of the parents.

Look at the pre-1850 censuses.

1840 United States Federal Census. Greene County, Tennessee. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

The early censuses are often overlooked because they do not provide the level of detail of later censuses. However, these records are not completely unhelpful to genealogists. If your ancestor was old enough to be an adult in these censuses, look for him or her.  Women in the pre-1850 censuses are more difficult to find, as they were not often heads of households, but they do turn up occasionally.

If your ancestor was still a child in 1840 or earlier, if you know where he or she was living in 1850 or if you know where he or she lived as a child, search the censuses in that area for individuals with the same last name. Try tracing those individuals to the 1850 census or later to see if they could be related to your ancestor. Also look at the family composition of the various households with your ancestor’s surname in the early censuses to see if there is a male or female of the appropriate age.

Make sure you have found all relevant censuses.

If you are trying to connect your ancestor to his or her parents, do not look at censuses in which he or she is a child only. Sometimes elderly parents lived with their adult children, so you may be able to find the parents there. Also depending on the census, you may find further clues concerning your ancestor beyond just age and place of birth.

Trace the siblings of your ancestor and their descendants.

Jacob Myers family tree. Ancestry.com user casvelyn. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

Sometimes the siblings of your ancestor provide more detailed information than your ancestor with regard to parentage. Maybe a younger sibling had a death certificate, whereas your ancestor died too early. Perhaps one or both of the parents are living with a sibling in later censuses. Another sibling’s family could have written a more detailed obituary. Looking at the siblings’ birth information can also provide evidence for other places your ancestor’s family may have lived, particularly if the family moved frequently.

Look in the county records where your ancestor lived throughout his or her life.

County records such as wills, probates, deeds and court records are full of direct and implied relationships. Will and probate records outline what happened to a person’s property after he or she died. Although many people did not write a will, most owned enough property to have the estate go through the probate process. If your ancestor died young, he or she may have left property to his or her parents. Otherwise, looking at wills and probates for individuals with your ancestor’s surname may help you to find his or her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings.

Will of Philip Erbaugh. Clerk of Court, Miami County, Indiana, Vol. 8, p. 66. Accessed July 9, 2018. Family Search.

Deed records do not always name the relationship between the seller and the buyer, but there are some family clues to be found. If someone sells a piece of property for $1 or “for love and affection,” there is a good chance of a family relationship between the individuals.

Criminal and civil court records may note familial relationships if someone sued other members of his or her family or if a family member testified at a trial or helped to pay bail or fines. Court records are rarely indexed by the names of all involved, just the plaintiffs and defendants, so looking at cases involving individuals with the same surname as your ancestor may be necessary.

Check county histories.

Eli H. Dunn. “History of Knox and Daviess County, Indiana.” Chicago: Goodspeed, 1886.

Most county histories contain a section of brief biographies of local residents. Even those that do not usually contain information on early or prominent residents of the area. These biographical sketches provide many details about your ancestor’s life, including spouses, children, parents, career, education and social affiliations. Many county histories are available online through sites such as Google Books, Internet Archive and Hathi Trust.

Look at newspapers.

Rushville Republican, September 30, 1959, p. 8. Accessed July 9, 2018. Newspaper Archive.

As more and more newspapers are digitized and indexed, it is easier than ever to search the newspapers for your ancestor. Through newspapers, you may be able to find an obituary or death notice for your ancestor. You also may be able to find articles about religious or social affiliations. For example, if your ancestor attended a Methodist church picnic or helped out at a Masonic Lodge fish fry, he may have been a member of that church or fraternal organization. Depending on the area, newspapers may also contain information about vacations, hospital stays, weddings, funerals and many other everyday aspects of your ancestor’s life that cannot be found anywhere else.

Check online trees.

Looking at family trees that other researchers have posted online can help you to see if you have overlooked anything in your research. Try to use trees that have citations so you know where the person got their information. If the trees do not have citations, but do contain new information, think about sources that might provide that information and check them to see if you can find proof.

There are many websites where individuals can post family trees, so you may need to check more than one to find new information about your ancestor. Simply searching for “[ancestor name] family tree” or “[surname] family tree” can find many trees that are publicly available.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, genealogy librarian. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.