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1952 Exchange of Correspondence Between the Director of the Bureau of Census and the Archivist of the United States

(Referenced in 44 U.S.C. § 2108(b))


Department of Commerce
Bureau of Census
Washington, D.C.
August 26, 1952

Dr. Wayne C. Grover
Archivist of the United States
Washington, D.C.

Dear Dr. Grover:

It is the policy of the Bureau of the Census to provide the maximum physical protection for the records which document its major programs, and make available to as many people as possible the information contained in such records consistent with national security and the rights of individuals concerned. With these ends in mind, we wish to make the following proposals concerning the custody, maintenance and use of the records of individuals enumerated in decennial population censuses:

The Bureau of the Census will transfer to the National Archives and Records Service (1) the original schedules of each decennial population census when they are no longer required by the Bureau of the Census for active statistical use and when the National Archives and Records Service can provide space and service for them; (2) the negative microfilm of such schedules when the Bureau of the Census has obtained a positive copy of the microfilm; and (3) the positive microfilm of these schedules when they are no longer required by the Bureau of the Census in its personal census service activities.

The Bureau of the Census desires that the National Archives and Records Service observe the following provisions pertaining to the use and maintenance of these records subsequent to their transfer:

A. All negative microfilm copies of decennial population census schedules transferred to the National Archives and Records Service shall be preserved as the permanent records of such censuses. These negative copies will not be used as searching media or inserted in reading devices except when necessary for inspection incident to the proper maintenance of such records.

B. The National Archives and Records Service will, upon request by the Bureau of the Census, furnish positive prints of any negative microfilm which has been transferred to the former agency. The charge for this service will be the cost of the positive film and its development, plus a service charge of not more than ten percent.

C. At no time after the National Archives and Records Service has accepted custody of both the negative and positive microfilm copies of the schedules of a census will both negative and positive copies of that census be kept in the same city.

D. After the lapse of seventy-two years from the enumeration date of a decennial census, the National Archives and Records Service may disclose information contained in these records for use in legitimate historical, genealogical or other worth-while research, provided adequate precautions are taken to make sure that the information disclosed is not to be used to the detriment of any of the persons whose records are involved. Prior to the lapse of time specified above, the information will be disclosed only by the Bureau of the Census from microphotographic or other records in its possession.

Please let us know if these provisions are acceptable to you. If they are, we shall make the necessary arrangements to effect the movement of records now eligible for transfer.

Sincerely yours,

Roy V. Peel,
Director.


October 10, 1952

Dr. Roy V. Peel
Director, Bureau of the Census
Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

Dear Dr. Peel:

This is in reply to our offer to transfer periodically to the National Archives and Records Service the original schedules of each decennial population census when these are no longer needed for active statistical use, the negative microfilm of those population census schedules for which the Bureau of the Census possesses adequate positive microfilm copies, and the positive microfilm copies of those population census schedules which the Bureau of the Census no longer desires to retain for reference use.

In view of the established policy of the National Archives and Records Service to relieve agencies of records accumulations no longer needed for current use, and to preserve those records deemed to be of permanent value, I am, in principle, in agreement with the transfer policy stated in your letter of August 26, 1952.

I am also in agreement with the conditions you state with respect to the use and maintenance of these records (1) that the master set of negative microfilm to be transferred shall be preserved as the permanent records of the decennial population census schedules, and that the master negatives and the positive microfilm copies shall not be kept in the same city; (2) that the National Archives and Records Service will furnish the Bureau of the Census with positive prints of the negative microfilm whenever requested, and that the charge for such service shall not exceed the cost of the positive film and its development plus an overhead of not more than ten percent, provided, however, that the production of the initial set of positive microfilm copies of a decennial population census shall be the responsibility of the Bureau of the Census; and (3) that after “seventy-two years from the enumeration date of a decennial census, the National Archives and Records Service may disclose information contained in these records for use in legitimate historical, genealogical or other worth-while research.”

With respect to the foregoing restrictions on disclosure of information it is understood that the applicable conditions of legitimacy will be those now in force, (1) a searcher’s reputation as in fact a research worker or professional genealogist; (2) a searcher’s connection with an established institution of learning or research; (3) a searcher’s connection with the person or family whose records are desired, either by immediate relationship or by authorization; and (4) the lapse of time since the appearance of possibly detrimental information, considered in conjunction with the legitimacy of public or scholarly interest in the factual data relating to a historical personage.

In accordance with these mutually acceptable provisions, at your convenience we are prepared to make the necessary arrangements to effect the movement of records now eligible for transfer.

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