Library Blog

2020 U.S. Federal Census 


Census 2020 logo

Despite the unusual constraints brought on by the pandemic, U.S. citizens are required to respond to the call for 2020 U.S. Census household data.  You can and are required to respond online, by phone or by mail.  The federal Census is done every ten years and is an important way for the government to operate effectively and efficiently on your behalf.  To find out more, please go to the official website and click on the “Why Your Answers Matter” tab:

As your genealogy and local history librarian, I want to take this opportunity to talk briefly about census records and their important role in building family histories.  Since 1790, the decennial census has captured essential details about our ancestors.  Check out the census’ historical background here:

While census information that reveals demographic data is available at all times, the Census records that contain the personally identifiable information about each household member (the sort of data we genealogists crave) are withheld due to the “72-Year Rule.” See:

These details can become the foundation for your research.  By the way, census records, or their equivalents, are also available in many U.S. states, and are undertaken normally halfway between the federal census.  Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, collect census data as well.

The U.S. Federal Census provides the names of all members of a household, whether they are relatives or temporary boarders.  Generally, personal information includes age, gender, marital status, place of birth, occupation and more!  Comparing census data every ten years will show how a family changed, with the births of new members and the disappearance of some family members due to marriage, death or relocation.

So, be part of the historical record!  Respond now in 2020, and research the historical census records.  By the way, the 1950 U.S. Federal Census details will be released in 2022.  You know you’re getting older when you find your immediate family, and see your name.

Research note: please be aware that Proquest, the provider of online access to Ancestry Library Edition, is available from home at no cost through April 2020.  As always, feel free to visit the library’s genealogy page

If you have any questions, please drop me a line at

I’ll do my best to respond in a timely way.


Stay well,

Tim Seman

Genealogy and Local History Librarian

Tim Seman

Tim Seman has worked in archives and libraries from Washington, D.C. to Youngstown, spanning more than thirty years.  A staunch abolitionist vegan, Tim shares life with a multispecies family, reads broadly, writes occasionally, and enjoys cooking and marksmanship.  Contact him at