Historical Census Data (1790-1990)

Introduction

Finding historical census information can be tricky.  Although some of the information has been converted into a digital form, for early censuses much of it still is tangible.  Furthermore, it is difficult to compare statistics from one decennial census to the next, as geographical boundaries, etc. change over time.  OSU Libraries’ Census Collection, on the first floor of the Thompson Library, has census material from the 1st Decennial Census to the 21st (1790-1990). 

 

Searching

OSU Libraries’ have census material from the 1st Decennial Census to the current(1790-).  Other census related materials are held by OSU Libraries and are searchable via the catalog.  The easiest way to find U.S. Census material is to do a Library of Congress Subject Heading search.  To find U.S. Census material, enter United States--Census, then the number of the desired census.  For example, to find 1st Census (1790) items, type "United States Census 1st" or to find 21st Census (1990) materials, type "United States Census 21st" in the subject search.

1  1790  

5  1830

9  1870

13  1910

17  1950

21 1990

2  1800  

6  1840

10  1880

14  1920

18  1960

22 2000

3  1810

7  1850

11  1890 

15  1930

19  1970

23 2010

4  1820  

8  1860

12  1900

16  1940

20  1980

 

Material can also be located doing:

Call Number:  Search the catalog by call number to find materials on a specific census.  Many of the U.S. Census materials have a Library of Congress Call Number beginning HA 201 year.   Items pertaining to the 12th Census (1900), for example, would have a call number beginning "HA 201 1900.”  To find a specific publication from the 1st through 16th censuses, search by the call number penciled in the Catalog of United States Census Publications 1790-1945.

Title: Search the catalog by title when the exact title of the desired publication is known.

Author: The author for historic U.S. Census material is United States. Bureau of Census.  The OSU Libraries hold thousands of publications by this agency. Author searches are not recommended.

 

Other Resources

The resources listed below can help in locating historic data.  Please check the OSU Libraries’ catalog for location and availability where necessary.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. United States Historical Census Data Browser.

Selected data from 1790-1960 Censuses in table format. Includes national, state, and county data.

Missouri Census Data Center. (APPLINK)  

Census data from 1990 including current ACS data for the United States and by state.  Some parts are still under construction.

National Archives and Records Administration.  

Searchable census data 1940 with indexes and search aids for all the censuses (1790 - current).  [Resources by year, 1790-current]   [Searchable 1940 Census]

QueryLogic.  MicroAnalyst.

Collection of census data from 1850 to 1990 along with programs to manipulate the data. CD-ROM application combining the University of Minnesota's IPUMS datasets with custom software. Users may create tables or extract data for manipulation.  Data comprises the Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) files and IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Samples). These data are based on individual returns rather than summary data and allow researchers to construct an almost limitless number of cross tabulations.  [Available:  Thompson Library - Room 211, M-R 9-5, kept with Geolytics discs, bring ID]

Statistics and Data Sets: Population and Housing

Data Sets section provides links to sites maintaining files that can be downloaded for local manipulation.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.  American FactFinder2.

Tables, thematic maps, and reference maps.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Census Bureau Population Topics and Household Economic Topics.

Links to tables arranged by topic areas.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. The County and City Data Book.  Irregular.

Supplement to the Statistical Abstract providing tables for smaller geographic areas.  Formed by the merger of: Statistical Abstract of the United States. Cities Supplement; and County Data Book.
[HA202 .A36]

Online:  Current Issue | Previous Edition | 1944-1994 | 1947 | 1949 | 1952 | 1967 | 1972 | 1977 | 1994 | 2000 | 2007 

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Historical Statistics of the United States.

Selected data from 1790-1970, most tables are national level, some state tables.
[HA 202 A385 1976]
Online: GPO Part 1 | GPO Part 2 | Cambridge Millennial Edition

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Publications:  Census of Population and Housing

Links to Census of Population and Housing  (1790-Present). Information by states.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Selected Historical Census Data

Population counts (State and County) 1790-1990, Urban and Rural population 1900-1990, and Housing tables 1940-1990.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States.

Annual.   Data drawn from a variety of sources including the Censuses of Population and Housing. Most tables are national, some state and metropolitan area tables. The County and City Data Book, supplements the Statistical Abstract by providing tables for smaller geographic areas.   [Note as of October 2011, the Bureau of Census will no longer collecting data for this publications.]
[HA202A36].
Online:  Current Issue  | Archived 

University of California, Berkeley. Social Science and Government Data Library.

SSTF 1 (Foreign Born), 2 (Ancestry), 3 (Hispanic Origin), 5 (Asian and Pacific Islander).  Note: focus is on California, access to some files restricted.

University of Minnesota. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS).

Sample data from 1850-1880, 1900-1920, and 1940-1990 Censuses. Intended for researchers who need sub-samples of census data for local manipulation.

 

__________________________________________________________________

Further Reading

Abramowitz, Molly.  Census '90 Basic: Census Planning, Census Collecting, Processing Questionnaires, Tabulating Results, Geographic Tools, Data Products. Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, 1993.

Revised April 1993.  Overview of the 1990 census. Explanations of census geography are especially useful.

Abramowitz, Molly.  Census ’90 Basics.  Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, 1990.

Overview of the 1990 census. Explanations of census geography are especially useful.

Anderson, Margo J., editor Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000.

[HA 37 U55 C66 2000 c.3]
Provides an overview of Census concepts and issues from 1790 to the present. Includes thematic maps, tables, and charts.

Barrett, Richard E. Using the 1990 Census for Research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications 1994.

[HA 201 1990 B37 1994]
Provides an overview of the 1990 Census and issues and problems in using Census data.

Breeze, Jerry. Decennial Census Information at Columbia University Libraries.

Current Population Reports

Series and subject indexes to the Current Population Reports. Includes links to online versions of reports when available.  Many of the reports are prior to 2000.

Dubester, Henry J. Catalog of United States Census Publications 1790-1945. Washington: GPO 1950.

[Z 7554 U5 U62]

Standard reference for historic census publications. Call numbers for 1950 OSU holdings penciled in margins. (Search Oscar by call number for current locations and holdings.)

Dubester, Henry J. Catalog of United States Census Publications: 1790-1945.  Washington, DC: GPO, 1971

Standard reference for historic census publications.  (Search Oscar by call number for current locations and holdings.)

Dubester, Henry J. Catalog of United States Census Publications: 1790-1945. Washington, DC: GPO, 1974

Farrington, Polly-Alida. Subject Index to the 1980 Census of Population and Housing. Clifton Park, NY: Specialized Information Products: 1985.

Kaplan, Charles P. and Thomas L. Van Valey. Census '80: Continuing the Factfinder Tradition. Washington: GPO, 1980.

[HA 201 1980 K36]
Discusses the U.S. Census from its origins (1790) through 1980. Appendix A "Population and Housing Items on General Schedules 1790-1970" is especially useful.

Lavin, Michael R., Jane Weintrop, and Cynthia Cornelius. Subject Index to the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. Kenmore, NY: Epoch Books: 1997.

[HA 201 1990 F3 1997]
Index to tables in print and CD-ROM Census products. Also provides definitions of Census terminology.

Lavin, Michael R. Understanding the Census. New York: Epoch Books, 1996.

[HA 201 1990 L37 1996]
Detailed explanations of census terms, products, and uses.

Schulze, Suzanne. Population Information in Nineteenth Century Census Volumes. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press: 1983.

[Z 7164 D3 S44 1983]
Census questions, geographic areas, and citations to and detailed contents of census publications for each of the first eleven (1790-1890) censuses.

Schulze, Suzanne.  Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1900-1940. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press: 1985. 

 [ Z 7164 D3 S45 1985]

Schulze, Suzanne.  Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1950-1980. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1988.

[Z 7164 D3 S46]
Census questions, geographic areas, and citations to and detailed contents of census publications from the 12th to 20th(1900-1980) censuses. See Lavin (above) for 21st (1990) census information.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Census Catalog & Guide. Annual, 1980-.

[Z7554 U5 U322]
Census products available for sale by the Census Bureau and Government Printing Office. Updated by Monthly Product Announcement [Z7554 U5 U574]. 

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.  Factfinder for the Nation.  Series. 

Series of topical brochures. 1. Statistics on race and ethnicity. 2. Availability of census records about individuals. 3. Agricultural statistics. 4. History and organization. 5. Reference Sources. 6. Housing statistics. 7. Population statistics. 8. Census geography: concepts and products. 9. Construction statistics. 10. Retail trade statistics. 11. Wholesale trade statistics. 12. Statistics on service industries. 13. Transportation, communications, and utilities statistics. 14. Foreign trade statistics. 15. Statistics on manufactures. 16. Statistics on mineral industries. 17. Statistics on governments. 18. Census Bureau programs and products. 19. Enterprise statistics. 20. Energy and related statistics. 21. International programs. 22. Data for communities.

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.  1990 Census of Population and Housing Guide. Washington, D.C.: GPO 1993.

[HA 201 1990 A567, Part B only]

1990 Census of Population and Housing Guide Part A -Text  

1990 Census of Population and Housing Guide  Part B - Glossery

United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.  Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From      1790 to 2000. 

An overview of the history of the U.S. Census of Population and Housing. Includes information on population schedules.

(Previous edition - 200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990 [C 3.2:T 93])

York, Grace. University of Michigan Documents Center: Guide to Updating the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. 

Provides links to, and descriptions of, more current resources.

York, Grace.  University of Michigan Documents Center: 1990 Census Data Locator.  

Census questionnaire facsimile, list of census products, census terminology, links to other online sources.