2010 Census Records Scheduling Update

Given public interest in the records accumulated during Census 2010, we are making the 2010 Census Records Schedule and the accompanying NARA appraisal of the records available for review and comment.  An earlier discussion about the issues surrounding the appraisal process and the 2010 Census records appeared on this blog in May. The schedule lists the records created and accumulated during Census 2010 and provides proposed standards for their disposition.  If the records are proposed for permanent retention, the schedule contains instructions for their transfer to the National Archives for safekeeping and preservation.  If the records are proposed for temporary retention, the schedule contains instructions for their disposal after expiration of a retention period.  The appraisal report reflects a careful and considered judgment of the value of each records series or electronic system for historical and other research purposes.

The schedule contains proposed disposition standards for 66 record series or electronic systems.  Twenty-one of these are proposed for permanent retention.  Among the records designated for preservation are the following:  scanned images of respondent census forms, the Individual Census Record File containing response data and linkage information to the scanned images, summary data files that provide population totals and counts of population characteristics sorted at a variety of geographic levels, a public use microdata sample file providing demographic, social, economic, and housing data for a sample of the population, record set of publications, studies and reports, and geographic products and outputs, including maps showing boundaries and names of geographic areas covered by the census and thematic maps illustrating the distribution of population characteristics.  The executive summary in the appraisal report references the specific sections of the schedule covering these records.  The “additional background” section of the report, which follows the executive summary, helps explain how the schedule is organized and the approach taken in determining the value of the records.

The schedule and appraisal are products of an ongoing collaboration between the NARA and the Census Bureau that aims to effectively manage the records of Census 2010.  The schedule identifies as permanent those records with ongoing value for historical and other research purposes and provides instructions for their transfer to the National Archives.  The retention standards also provide for records management economies, helping ensure the prompt disposal of temporary records as soon as they are no longer needed for business and administrative purposes.  NARA and the Census Bureau are also collaborating on needed arrangements for the transfer of the permanent records once the schedule is approved.  Among the first records to be transferred will be the voluminous scanned images of respondent census forms from Census 2010, which must be safeguarded and preserved for 72 years before being made publicly available in 2082.

Notice of the 2010 Census Records Schedule has also appeared in the Federal Register of  November 30, 2010.  The direct link to the notice concerning the 2010 Census records schedule is available here. As the guidance outlined in that notice provides the public 30 days in which to request copies of the schedule and accompanying appraisal, we will accept and respond to comments and questions posted to this blog through December 30, 2010.

Update: Below are links to .pdf documents of both the Census 2010 records schedule and our appraisal report.

2010 Census Records Schedule

Appraisal report for census 2010 records schedule

9 thoughts on “2010 Census Records Scheduling Update

  1. It would be great if the schedules and appraisals were made available without having to request them. It seems like an unnecessary step that prevents greater public input. Is there any movement towards this? Is there a requirement that folks must request them and they can’t just automatically be made available?

  2. Thanks, Arian. This is super interesting! I’m learning so much about the process.

    ~ Meredith

  3. As a genealogist I would liked to have seen added to the 2010 census weather or not the person was a veteran and the dates served, as it would have backed up any distruction of military records like the St Louis fire which destroyed most of the recent records of veterans of the Army and Air Force. Also the item of ownership or rental of property should also have included “shared houseing” which is now a way to exist. In short the 2010 census falls short of the needed things that genealogical researchers really need to do their research. I have used the census records not only to find ancestors, but to help find living relatives not known about before. What ever method used to save the reccords, a duplicate set of those records should be kept in a secondary location to avoid the likes of what happened to the 1890 census. Natural and manmade desasters will happen, so so it would pay to have a back-up system. I am a big fan of the census and how these records have helped so many. Thank you.

  4. Don, Thanks for your comment. I can assure you that our accessioning and access procedures allow for the backup and recovery of the electronic records of the 2010 Census. NARA will preserve the records as received from the Census Bureau.

  5. Much of the social information about a family that was once on the long form is now in the American Community Survey. Since the survey is conducted under the decennial census authority will those records be made available to researchers in 72 years?

  6. David

    Thanks for your comment. I have checked with the appraisal staff and the answer to your question is yes, the American Community Survey data will be made available to researchers in 72 years.

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