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This nation's census let people add a time capsule message to be revealed in 2122

A person fills out an Irish census form on Sunday. A new time capsule feature allows people to add personal messages that stay under wraps for 100 years.
PA Images/Reuters
A person fills out an Irish census form on Sunday. A new time capsule feature allows people to add personal messages that stay under wraps for 100 years.

As usual, Ireland's census asks for people's names, ages and relationships. But a new time capsule feature could start some bigger conversations — 100 years from now.

At the end of this year's census form, people were given the chance to voluntarily add a time capsule message, which is set to remain private until 2122. It could be an opportunity to leave a message to future generations or historians.

The census, which took place Sunday, encouraged those filling out the voluntary form to consider what insights descendants might be able to learn about life in 2022 a century from now.

"Will they feel a strong connection with us, as we do now when we look up the individual census records from 1901 and 1911?" the census website asks.

People took different approaches to the time capsule, using the space to tell future readers about themselves that the census didn't otherwise leave space for.

One Twitter user filled the page with a musical score, and someone else drew an illustration of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. One user filled space with a comic.

Another person took the opportunity to remember a beloved child who died in a car crash and was never counted in a census.

"Feeling such comfort today after filling in the time capsule section in the #Census2022 last night. Estlin never was counted in a census but 100+ yrs from now she will be remembered & our ancestors will be able to read about her. Just incredible," the user tweeted.

Ireland's census is taken every five years, twice as often as the U.S. headcount. The latest census was planned for April 2021, but was delayed until this year because of the pandemic.

U.S. census records are released every 72 years. The 1950 census was made public on Friday, and includes details on families and relationships — but no time capsules.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rina Torchinsky

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