Graham and Jackie Johnson had only been in Salt Lake City a few hours when they began scouring U.S. census records at the LDS Family History Library in search of Graham Johnson's grandfather, the Rev. William V. Brown.
The Johnsons, on a cross-country trip from Myrtle Beach, S.C., found the Rev. Brown listed on the 1860 Census in Yadkin County, N.C., with his seven children. The microfilmed census entry said Brown could read and write, gave the value of his real estate, birthplace and occupation.Like the Rev. Brown in a small North Carolina town more than a century ago, Utahns will be asked to fulfill their civic obligation to answer census questions on April 1, 1990. This week the Census Bureau began setting up an office at 202 W. Fourth South that will be the center of Utah census operations for the next 16 months. Other offices will be opened in Provo and Ogden.
"We should have between 1,600 and 2,000 workers in Utah during the peak time of March 1990," Deon Gillespie, Ogden native and Census Bureau media specialist, said.
The 1990 Census will mark the Bicentennial of the first national headcount taken in 1790. Much has changed over the years since the first census, including the cost - this time the government will spend $2.6 billion.
In 1790, the census was much less of a concern to the nation's leaders. Then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson was not only in charge of the nation's foreign policy, but in charge of counting the new nation's people. During the first census, only the names of heads of household were listed with the number of free males and females, other "persons" and "slaves."
"The first censuses were simply concerned with a single head count to determine apportionments for Congress and taxes," said Mike Havland, a Census Bureau staff historian, "But almost immediately people like James Madison wanted to use it for other other things."
In 1990, Americans will be asked to answer a basic set of about 14 questions. One out of every six households will also to be asked to fill out a longer form. In addition to short-form questions about name, sex, race, marital status and whether people have plumbing or a telephone, the longer questionnaires will ask about ancestry, fertility, veteran status, car ownership, source of water and method of sewage disposal.
Gillespie said that most Utahns will receive a census form in the mail during the last two weeks in March. All of those living in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties will be asked to return the forms by mail. Rural residents in all other Utah counties will be contacted by door-to-door enumerators who will pick up the forms.
"About 18 percent of the housing in the state will be contacted by enumerators who will pick up mailed-out forms," Gillespie said.
The Census Bureau will begin this May to verify addresses for Utah's approximately 1.7 million residents. The Postal Service will then make a check of residents in April. The year between that check and the actual census will be spent in education and outreach programs to get people to fill out the census form. Final census figures will be delivered to President George Bush on Dec. 31, 1990. Redistricting counts will be delivered to states in 1991.
Utah's population count is expected to be 1.8 million in 1990 - an 8 percent increase over 1980.
The Census Bureau is trying to correct the undercount of minorities, illegal immigrants in past censuses. About 1.4 percent of the population was believed to have been missed by the Census Bureau in 1980. Among blacks, the figure was estimated at almost 6 percent.> Gillespie said workers will focus on contacting minority populations in the state. The bureau has already enlisted help from American Indian tribal leaders, black churches, Spanish-speaking volunteers and other community organizations.> The Census Bureau has set up a help-line with 30 languages, and local enumerators plan to visit homeless shelters, hotels and motels near or on Census Day.> *****
How 1990 Census will affect Utah
STATE AND FEDERAL REPRESENTATION - The 1990 Census is not likely to give Utah another member of the House of Representatives as it it did in 1980, but there has not been enough out-migration to lose one either. In 1991 or 1992, redistricting of congressional and legislative seats will have to occur to accommodate population growth in north Davis, south Salt Lake and Washington counties. A fight over reapportioning the 2nd Congressional District, currently held by Democrat Wayne Owens, is expected from the Republican governor and legislators.
FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDING - Cities and counties will watch how well the federal government counts their residents. The head count and subsequent Census Bureau population estimates will be the basis for dividing up a decade of state sales, gas and cigarette taxes. A wide variety of state programs, including many social services, receiving matching federal money will also be based on census figures.
MINORITIES - Utah's minority populations including American Indian tribes, blacks, Asians and Hispanics will also be closely watching the Census Bureau count. Undercounts in these populations in the past have been linked to loss in federal funding for the poor and loss in political power.
METROPOLITAN STATUS - Summit County is likely to become part of the federally defined metropolitan area that already includes Weber, Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties. Such a designation will likely have to wait another decade or two for Cache, Tooele, and Washington counties. Such designations may be a future prerequisite to qualify for federal programs like mass transit funding.