The census worker said with a smile as he handed me our application.
t has to be a little more than that. For a two-person household, that means answering eight A4 sides of the question, including whether your facility has solar panels, how long it takes you to get to work, and whether you have solar panels. smoke or not.
We’ve gone some way from the British census of 1841, the earliest census available online for these islands. After that, the only information recorded is name, marital status, place of residence, job and place of birth.
We are left to sketch the lives of our ancestors from their travels – in my family, often from rural Ireland to the industrial heart of the empire in the north of England. Their work provides a number of insights, some more explicit than others. Among my favorites from my family tree: the brewer’s cellar (obviously enough); glycerine evaporator (less) and navvy.
For anyone born in this country, birthplaces on the 1841 census tend to state just “Ireland” – no county, no parish. It’s frustrating for the amateur genealogist. How much luckier future generations will be when they can not only see where their ancestors lived, but also see if they have a septic tank.
This year’s census goes further than previous censuses, adding a “time capsule”. It’s a misleading term that reminds one of boxes Green Peter Presenters were once buried in their gardens with euphoria (and dug up years later with a corresponding anti-drug air).
No: this time box is a space at the bottom of the form to leave a message “for your descendants/future generations/historians”. If only they had done this in the past, I might have been able to figure out whether being a glycerine evaporator is as bad as it sounds.
That said, these are people who have no information about their lives for generations to come, so I’m forced to dig through the old censuses. And anyway, after a hard day in the beer cellar, will my man have enough time and energy to compose a visionary message for his great-grandchildren?
This is by far the hardest part to complete – if it’s just a multiple choice, just like the others. How do we narrow down the things we consider important enough to our lives and to society to include a message for the future?
We don’t want to end with the verbal equivalent of these Green Peter time capsule content. Things they buried under the Millennium Dome included a Teletubby doll, an asthma inhaler and a photo of the roller coaster at Alton Towers. What could better capture the spirit of the times?
Then again, when they view this census over a century-long span, it’s possible that future generations will skip the timeline altogether and dive right into the matter.
“It’s 2022,” they will say as they head out to scoop another sandbag over the flood barrier. “Why haven’t they installed solar panels yet?”
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/will-your-census-time-capsule-be-a-message-for-the-ages-41459744.html Census 2022 Ireland: Is your ‘time capsule’ on census night a message for the ages?