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The 2010 census aims to count everybody living in the United States, legally or otherwise, as of April 1. Unfortunately for future family tree researchers, the census will use one of the shortest questionnaires in history. Unlike the 2000 enumeration, when most people completed a “short form” and a sampling of one household in six got the “long form,” the 2010 headcount will use only a short form. It asks for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship to head of household, and whether you own or rent your home.
The Census Bureau promises that the form will take only about 10 minutes for the average household to complete. To insure thorough coverage, the mail questionnaire will be followed up from April through July by field operations employing some 1.4 million temporary census workers. Some will be armed with GPS-equipped handheld computers for updating maps and future census mailings.
The questionnaire also will reflect America’s increasingly diverse population. Hispanic neighborhoods will receive about 13 million bilingual Spanish-English forms. Upon request, forms also will be available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian, along with guides in 59 languages.
The longer questionnaire beloved by genealogists has been replaced by the American Community Survey, sent to a small sampling of the population every year instead of every 10 years. To learn more about this year’s census, see <2010census.gov>.