I am a student here at Southern
Oregon University. I am conducting
research into feminist interests
regarding the US federal census.
This will culminate in a scholarly
paper hopefully to be published
within the next year. I thought
maybe I would contact you to
ask for your input and any suggestions.
The main focus of the paper
will be issues regarding fair
representation of women in the
US federal census and any negative
consequences arising from unequal
enumeration. Specifically, once
a woman marries and assumes
a husband's surname, she essentially
becomes a number as far as the
federal census is concerned.
The census does not collect
a woman's previous (maiden)
surname, just her first name.
This presents a problem for
historians researching the lives
of women in American history,
because after a particular woman
has married, the ability to
determine where she lived and
how she moved from place to
place becomes hampered.
When one considers the
fundamental impact the US federal
census has as a major piece
of historical documentation,
this omission appears extremely
disturbing. It is surprising
that on the verge of the 21st
century, after so much ground
has been won in the struggle
for fair representation in women's
issues, the federal census still
does not provide equal documentation
of married women the same as
it does for men.
I would like to ask you
if you are aware of any time
when this issue has been addressed
before, or if there are any
agencies or individuals who
are addressing this issue now.
Surely this would be an appropriate
topic for lobbying groups in
Washington DC dedicated to women's
issues. Your kind assistance
may pave the way for action
to resolve this unfortunate
oversight. Regards, Robert L.
Williams, Senior, Southern Oregon