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U.S. Census

Introduction on how to find and use the U.S. census

The Census: What it is and What it Does

The U.S. government  assesses the condition of the nation and the people through the Census, especially the Decennial Census of Population and Housing.  This guide lists resources to help you use this and other census resources more effectively.

If you need an introduction to the census and how to use it, go to the tab "Getting Started".

The Census Bureau's web site is a goldmine of information and should be the first stop for any research about the Census.  To find more about this web site, go to the "Census.gov" tab

All censuses are conducted based on very precise geographical divisions and familiarity with these divisions is crucial to using any Census data effectively.  For more information on Census geography, go to the tab "Census Geography".

Census data is used across the spectrum of society.  It's used in scholarly research, policy planning in both the public and private sectors and in the allocation of government resources.  For information on how to find and use Census data, go to the tab "Finding Data".

With the process of counting individuals some information is gathered about the individuals.  To ensure privacy these enumeration records are sealed for 72 years.  When they are released, they are useful sources for historical research and genealogy.  For information on how to find these records, go to the tab "Finding Persons".

While the Decennial Census is the major focus of the Census Bureau, the Bureau also conducts other censuses such as the Economic Census.  For more information on these other censuses, go to the tab "Other Censuses".

The authority for the Census to be taken is in the Constitution which states that a count of the entire population is undertaken every 10 years.   For more information on the constitutional authority of the Census, go to the tab "The Constitution and the Census".

Every Census is a newsworthy event and has sometimes generated controversy in the collection or posting of data.  For sources on where to find news articles, go to the "Census in the News" tab.

Created and Updated by

Deborah Mongeau 4/12; 6/14; 12/16; 4/17; 11/18

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.