Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Census 2011

There's a lot of buzz around the various genealogy sites and societies about the 2011 census. You will remember in 2006 the Government in it's infinite wisdom decided to give people the option of "opting out" of having their census records released in 92 years. A truly nightmarish thought for any genealogy researcher.
This year, the big debate of course has been the long form and the ability to opt in or out of that. To me the difference between the two is like getting a statutory record vs a parish record. A wealth of information about your ancestor vs one or two lines that confirm your research. The worry, of course, is the "privacy" issue and how that will impact us all 92 years from now when we are a fleeting memory and our ancestors are trying to reach back and connect to us. Personally, it's doubtful I'll be here to worry about what strangers learn about me in 92 years, and if I am still here, (by some miracle of science) I am not likely to give a darn what strangers might learn about me.
We all know people who are paranoid about this privacy issue though. So, I suggest we encourage them to complete the long form census report, clicking the box not to release the information if they so choose, but begging them to then print off a copy of what their answers were and tuck those papers away with their other personal, vital papers (birth, marriage, passports, land deeds, whatever they have put away for the next generation to worry about). That way, they don't need to worry about what information strangers will discover about them, but their families won't miss out on truly "knowing" them when, generations from now, they carry out research in an attempt to satisfy a deep yearning to "know" those who came before them.

No comments:

Post a Comment