Census Facts

From 1790 through 1840, the population censuses listed the names of household heads only and tallied the number of people in each family according to their age, sex, race and (later) employment, and the number of slaves held. Beginning in 1850, all free persons were listed by name with their characteristics, which then included occupation, place of birth and school enrollment.

Detail census records are closed to the public for 72 years to protect the confidentiality of the information they contain.


Race or Ethnic Origin

The concept of color or race in the censuses has never denoted any scientific definition of biological stock. "White" and "Black" persons have been identified in every decennial census since 1790. American Indians were first emumerated as a separate group in the 1870 census; however until 1890, those in the Indian Territory or on reservations were not included in the official U.S. population count used for congressional apportionment. Data has been collected on the Chinese population since 1870 census, and on the Japanese beginning in 1890.

Source: US Census Bureau