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About Historical Census Data
Historical data from the Census can be more difficult to find and use than current data. Census methods have changed, and questions have altered over the years. If you are looking for historical data, here are some sources that might help you.
U.S. Census Data
"The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." (U.S. Const. art. I, § 2)
Social Explorer contains data from the first Census in 1790 to the present day. Using their data, the user can generate maps of population or specific demographic variables by location, as well as reports. It is important to remember that it can be difficult to map demographic data over time, since the questions asked and methods used have not remained consistent.
Census of Population and Housing (1790-2010)
Historical decennial census publications in PDF format from 1790 to present.
"Special Collections & Reports" link provides access to additional historical census bulletins and data such as for imports & exports, manufactures, and religious bodies.
The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), produced by the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota provides free access to historical Census information. Note: this resource requires user registration, but registration is free and immediate.
For raw data from 1790 to 1970, historical Census information can be downloaded from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). ICPSR is accessible through Search Tools on the library website.
Learn more about the Census
The American Census by
Call Number: HA37.U55 A53 1988
Publication Date: 2015
This book is the first social history of the census from its origins to the present and has become the standard history of the population census in the United States.
The Hard Count by
Call Number: HA181 .H37 2006
Publication Date: 2006