US Census Records

US Census records have been kept since the first census was taken in 1790. Mandated to be conducted every ten years by the Constitution, the census is a record of United States population growth, status, shifts, and changes.

The first US Census records indicate that the population was just under 4 million people. In 2000, the population was over 281 million. Over time, census surveys became more detailed, leading to better reporting and statistical data. For example, recent census statistics provide information not only about population, but about type and location of housing, income, age, veteran status, and other detailed pieces of information. By accurately collecting data, the government is better able to determine which regions of the country will receive more federal funds to keep the infrastructure running smoothly and the population cared for and safe. Federal dollars are sent to school districts and neighborhoods with the most need, as shown by the data from US Census records. Census records may also change a state's representation within the federal government. Congressional seats can be either increased or decreased because of data gleaned from census records.

Additionally, census records are a written history of the changes the United States has experienced since 1790. Population numbers, living conditions, locations, family size, income, housing, ethnicity, and economic status through the years indicate how the United States has adapted to an ever-changing world and social climate. While identifying information in recent census surveys is kept in the strictest confidence, surveys over 72 years old are available to the public. Those interested in tracing their family history may find a wealth of information about ancestors and their lives.

US Census records provide an insight into America's past and a glimpse of its future. Because US Census records impact the daily lives of the entire population, it is crucial that census surveys are filled out accurately and returned by the deadline.