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Government Documents

About the Census

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 is more than just decennial population counts. The Census provides a wealth of information about income, race, education, immigration, housing, and much more for historians, demographers, students, and researchers. The Census also conducts regular surveys on agriculture, economics, business, and governments.

Statistical Compendia

Reference About the Census

Online Census - from the Census Bureau

There are many sources for Census documents online. Here are some important links.

Online Census - other providers

Locating the Census in print

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.

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. 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 Catalyst for Census documents we have in print or linked from the catalog.