Counted Once

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

Yesterday, my wife Cindy and I went to dinner at the Collington Episcopal Life Community near Largo, Maryland. One of my heroines, Margaret Martin, a giant figure in U.S. government statistics, lives there and invited me to talk to the residents about the 2010 Census.

The group collectively had seen at least eight different censuses. I asked what their earliest memories were of a census. One person remembered the 1930 Census because her father stayed at home to await the visit of the census enumerator in order to report for her household. Another remembered a 1940 Census enumerator coming to her Kentucky farmhouse. Her family had a large number of dogs who scared the male enumerator, and he asked that she put the dogs away. After he left, she remembered letting them loose and scaring the enumerator once again. The two stories illustrated how the visit of an enumerator was treated as that of a special guest and also the mischievous nature of youth.

The Collington facility is one where residents can switch from independent living to assisted living to active care, so, like many others, the census needs to make sure every resident is counted once and only once. Like all other “group quarters,” a census worker visited the facility in October to make sure we understood how units are arranged and how people might move across them. We’ll visit such facilities early to prepare for their enumeration.

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