As required by law, every 10 years the federal government conducts a count of U.S. residents. The first Census was conducted in 1790 and has happened every 10 years since. Except for individually identifiable information collected in the last 70 years, most Census materials are freely available to the public.
The Census conducts many other surveys besides the decennial count, and produces reports and interactive data tools. Census data and reports provide a wealth of information about income, race, education, immigration, voting, housing, and much more for historians, demographers, students, and researchers of all stripes. The Census also conducts regular surveys on agriculture, economics, business, and governments.
There are many sources for Census documents online. Here are some important links.
The Census has a long and interesting history. In using the Census for your research, you might find it very helpful to turn to reference books to understand how and if questions about major topics were asked over time. There are many, many more books about the Census in both reference and throughout the library. This list is just to get you started.
These are comprehensive compilations of statistics, published by Census or including Census data.
The library has documents published from every Decennial Census since 1790. These take up many shelves in the government documents section of the library!
Why look at the print documents? One, you may want to browse as a way to make sure you know what was covered. Two, historical information is not always digitized or available online, particularly for smaller geographies. You will discover some beautiful maps and charts.
It is helpful to just browse the stacks and acquaint yourself with what Census materials we have in the library. Our Census volumes are in the Government Documents area of the library on 1st Libe. The Su Doc (call) numbers for Census begin with I (Department of Interior) for 1790-1900 and C (Commerce) for 1910-forward.
You can also search the library catalog for Census documents we have in print or linked from the catalog.
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