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Census Reference Reports

Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution authorized the taking of a national census in the United States every 10 years to enumerate or count the population for apportioning representatives to the lower house of Congress. The first census was conducted in 1790 and included the 13 original states as well as the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and the Southwest Territory (Tennessee). Initially listing only the heads of households, over time the Federal census included more detailed information and questions that reflected the social, ethnic, financial, and occupational status of ordinary Americans.

Census Reference Reports describe research strategies using the Federal decennial census from 1790 to 1940 as well as available published indexes and the Soundex. The reports also cover more specialized topics such as nonpopulation schedules for agriculture, manufacturing and industries, mortality, social statistics, and defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; early census records for the District of Columbia; enumeration district (ED) maps; and African Americans in the census.

Click on the title to view a PDF version of the reference report. For additional topics, please see Introduction to Census Records.


African Americans

District of Columbia

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