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Population Research: U.S. Census

Resources for Population Research

Important Note About the U.S. Population Census

Between 1790 and 2000, the United States conducted one national census every 10 years. In an effort to provide detailed information more frequently, beginning in 2005, the Census Bureau began conducting the nationwide American Community Survey (ACS)  to collect data on a broad range of subjects on a regular basis. This survey was designed to supplement the brief “short form” decennial census which is still administered.  The ACS has an annual sample size of about 3.5 million addresses, with survey information collected nearly every day of the year. Data are pooled across a calendar year to produce estimates for that year. As a result, ACS estimates reflect data that have been collected over a period of time rather than for a single point in time as in the decennial census.

Estimates of ACS data are available on an annual, three-year and five-year basis, depending upon the population size of the geographic area. Special caution must be used when comparing data over time. For more information, see Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What all Data Users Need to Know;  and ACS Guidance for Data Users.

Historical U.S. Census

Historical Statistics of the United StatesMillennial ed. Carter, S. B.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006

Wide range of historical data.Tables cover specific indicators such as employment, income, saving, poverty, construction, housing, consumer price indexes, and others.

Population Information in Nineteenth Century Census Volumes Shulze, S. Phoenix, AZ : Oryx Press, 1983. Identifies the population information in the U.S. Census decennial reports from 1790 to 1890. Describes the contents and unique aspects of each census.

Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1900-1940  Shulze, SPhoenix, AZ : Oryx Press, 1985

Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1950-1980 Shulze, SPhoenix, AZ : Oryx Press, 1988

Bibliography and Reel Index: A Guide to the Microfilm Ed. of the U.S. Decennial Census Publications, 1790-1970 Woodbridge, Conn. : Research Publications, 1975.

Serves as a bibliography of U.S. Decennial Census Publications for 1790-1970 and as a reel index for the microform collection. Includes statistics on race, nationality, sex, occupations, and education. 

Where to Find U.S. Census Data

U.S. Census Quickfacts - Current population and other data for locations with a population of 5,000 or more. Options for viewing the data in charts, maps or tables.

American Factfinder - U.S. Census Bureau interface for accessing decennial and American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2000-present. Options for viewing data in tables or maps (selective) and for downloading into Excel. (Forthcoming Beta version also available.)

Social Explorer - User-friendly interface for interactive maps and census data reports from 1790 to the present. Also includes the 2011 censuses for Canada and the United Kingdom.

Annual Intercensal Estimates for the nation, states, counties and some cities and towns. 1909 - .

U.S. State Data Center Program  - A network of Data Centers  that provide census information for individual states.

U.S. Population Projections - Census Bureau estimates of the population for future dates.

PolicyMap - Online data and mapping application providing access to housing, crime, mortgage, health, demographic, job, and education indicators from both public and proprietary sources. Geographic availability differs by source. Some data available for downloading.

U.S. Census Published Volumes - PDF versions of published U.S. Census publications. 1790-2010 

U.S. Census Selected Bibliography

Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census from the Constitution to the American Community Survey.  M. J. Anderson, C. F. Citro, & J. J. Salvo (eds.) Thousand Oaks, CA : CQ Press, 2012. 

Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. J.G. Gauthier. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, 2002.(includes questionnaries from every census)

A Short Introduction to the U.S. Census. J.D. Carl. Boston: Pearson Education, 2012. 

Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges. C.F. Citro and G.Kalton. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2007. 

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