2020 Census - Count on Museums to Help

Posted by OMA on 12/20/2019

Museums and libraries have an important role in the upcoming 2020 Census, which begins April 1, 2020, Census Day. As you know, every 10 years, the United State Census counts every resident in the United States.  An accurate count is important to our state, for many reasons, including determining how many U.S. representatives our state is allowed as well as the amount of federal funds our state receives, which represents approximately $1,800 per person and to have an historical record of those who have lived in Oklahoma. An undercount of Oklahomans could be result in a loss of representation, funding and incomplete historical data.

Here are a few ideas to get your museum started on how they can help the community around them be counted – provide Census promotional materials at your museum, hold a special program on the history of the Census and how your community has changed using past Census for research, provide a dedicated computer for the community to use to complete their Census online, and above else, educate everyone as to the importance it is to be counted.

Museums also understand how important the Census is as an historical record. According to the United States Census Bureau, individual census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau. Publications related to the census data collected from 1790 to 2010 are available at https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html.

The Census Bureau's National Processing Center (NPC) in Jeffersonville, IN, maintains copies of the 1910 to 2010 census records. Records from the censuses of population and housing are publicly accessible 72 years after each decennial census' "Census Day." The most recent publicly available census records are from the 1940 census, released April 2, 2012.

After the 72 years have passed, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for making the records publicly available for viewing or purchase. Therefore, records from the 1950 census will be released on April 1, 2022.

Individuals may request their own records (before they are publicly available) via the Census Bureau's Age Search service. This service provides individual information from censuses that are still protected by the 72-year rule, but only to the named person, his or her heirs, or legal representatives. There is a Congressionally-mandated fee for this service. Individuals interested in requesting a search of their personal census records must complete a form BC-600, Application for Search of Census Records.

We hope that we can count on you and your museum to help make the 2020 Oklahoma Census count a success.