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The United States Census

This guide provides information and tools needed for researching U.S. Census data and statistics.

The U.S. Census

Welcome to the U.S. Census Data & Statistics Research Guide! This guide is designed to help you navigate and access a wealth of data and statistical resources provided by the U.S. Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau the United States leading provider of quality data about its people and economy. Census counts of every U.S. resident are conducted every 10 years, with the most recent census count administered in 2020. By law, all U.S. residents are required to take part in the census. To protect people’s privacy, all personal information collected by the census is confidential for 72 years. The most recent year of the census population schedule available is 1950. From 1790 to 1840, only heads of households were listed by name on the census forms. When using a census that names only the head of households, search for other records (such as marriage indexes), with that name to find other household members not listed in the census.

Census data is important because it is a key source of information about population demographics like race and ethnicity, poverty rates, educational resources, home ownership, and countless other aspects of our social and economic life. Census data's provision of the current facts and figures about America's people, places, and economy also dictates federal funding and spending for public services like schools, roads, hospitals, and other public works. Census data is also used to determine house many seats each state is allotted for the House of Representatives.

Read about the uses of Census Bureau Data in Federal Funds Distribution.

See how the 2020 Census changed representation in the House.

Individual census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the

National Archives and Records Administration.

Print Materials on Census History

These print resources provide general background information on the development of the decennial and economic census programs. Links to digital content are provided for each resource.

Online Materials on Census History

These online resources from the Census Bureau also provide general background information on the development of the decennial and economic census programs.

Click the image below to check out some famous and infamous census records from 1790-1950!

1940 Census - The Roosevelts. [1940] National Archives and Records Administration.

The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. The census helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress. 

Click the links below to explore 230 years of census data!

U.S. Census Data Surveys & Programs

In addition to the Decennial Census, the Census Bureau collects data about the economy and the people living in the United States from many different sources. Some data is collected from respondents directly (including businesses), through the censuses and surveys conducted. Primary sources for additional data comes from federal, state, and local governments, as well as some commercial entities. This type of data is generally called “administrative data," which is data collected and maintained by agencies used to administer (or run) programs and provide services to the public. The Census Bureau combines administrative data with survey and census data.

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