This week’s interview is with Beth Hayden, the Demographics and Reference Librarian. I like to refer to her as the Census Librarian, but her work involves a lot more than just the Census. She can often be seen at the Genealogy reference desk as well as the main reference desk for GHL.
Q (Erin Bradford). What is your role in the Government & Heritage Library?
A. I am the Demographics and Reference Librarian. I provide data assistance to researchers in education, business, nonprofits, and state and local government.
Q. How does you position relate to Genealogy, if at all?
A. I often work in the Genealogy Research Room to help cover the desk and provide public assistance. Although I have a lot to learn, I am in a unique position because I work with both parts of the US Census: the numbers provided by the US Census, as well as the names used by genealogists.
Q. Is there a particular aspect of genealogy that you are interested in?
A. I am interested in the history of Census enumeration. Mainly what social forces were at work that influenced the results of the Census, especially Census participation.
Q. You can often be seen working in the Genealogical Services room helping patrons. What are some of your favorite books in the genealogy collection or any go-to resources?
A. I am fascinated by the “non population” Censuses, particularly the Slave Schedules, the Veterans Census, and the Mortality Censuses. The North Carolina mortality census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 by Sandra Lee Almasy is one of my favorites.
Q. Do you do any genealogy yourself? If so, for how long?
A. I have only completed a small amount of research on my own family. Many of the records are missing due to courthouse fires in Brunswick County, North Carolina where many of my ancestors lived.
Q. Any advice for patrons or potential patrons?
A. Remember Census participation could be greatly influenced not only by mistrust of the government, but also by geography. Parts of our state were not always accessible. We also need to try to view historical records in the context in which they were created, not by modern standards.