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National Archives to Preserve Digital Images

National Archives and Records Administration News Release - June 8, 2000.

Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin announced today that the scanned image files of individual responses to the 2000 Decennial Census will become part of the permanent records of the 2000 Census. The individual Census Record File, Master Address File, and numerous summary statistic data files are already scheduled to become permanent records at the National Archives.

These digital images, which will not be made available to the public until 2072, will be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from the Census Bureau in 2010. NARA currently holds microfilmed copies of the census records from 1790 through 1920. These records are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, as well as NARA's regional facilities. The 1930 census will be released on microfilm on April 1, 2002.

The digital images of the Census 2000 that will be preserved by NARA are the short and long questionnaire forms sent to each household by the Census Bureau and completed by the respondent for the 2000 decennial census. The image files also contain other Census 2000 forms completed by Census Bureau enumerators during follow up operations necessary to complete the enumeration, such as on-site visits by enumerators. Decennial census records preserved in NARA are some of the most important records used by genealogists, family historians, and other researchers interested in America's social and demographic history.

The Archivist's decision was based on an internal review of the extensive public comments received in response to a Federal Register notice and on discussions with staff from the Census Bureau and the General Accounting Office. NARA also directly solicited comments on the retention of Census 2000 records from more than 20 professional groups and organizations that represent significant users of records in NARA's custody. Nearly all of the public comments NARA received urged the permanent retention of the scanned images of the Census questionnaires and forms.

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