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Census Information

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Census Act of 1790

On March 1, 1790, Congress passed the Census Act and President George Washington signed it into law. It authorized U.S. Marshals to ask 6 questions at each household for the purpose of collecting population data.  It wasn't until 1830 that a pre-designed form was printed and used by census takers; prior to that the paper and form were supplied by each marshal. 

On the first Monday in August, 1790, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson supervised the census-taking in the original 13 States, plus the districts of Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont, and the Southwest Territory (Tennessee).

Center of Population

The center of population for the United States is determined after each decennial census.

"The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight."--

After the 2010 Census the National Mean Center of Population was calculated to be 2.9 miles from Plato, Missouri, an incorporated village of 29 people in Texas Co.

Other centers of population:

1790  Kent County, Maryland

1840  Upshur County, West Virginia

1890  Decatur County, Indiana

1940   Sullivan County, Indiana

1990  Crawford County, Missouri

2000  Edgar Springs, Missouri

NEW! Census Data Visualization Gallery

Weekly the Census Bureau will present a different graphic view of census information, starting with population (decennial census) information and branching out to visualize the variety of statistics gathered by the Bureau.

Random data visualization example.

Looking for 1940 Census Release Info?

For information about the release of the 1940 Census Files (April 2, 2012) click on the tab above or here: Population Schedules (Enumeration).

United States Census Information

In the United States the Census Bureau collects information about people and the economy. Title 13 and Title 26 of the U.S. Code give the Census Bureau authority to gather this information for the purposes of determining the distribution of Congressional seats to states, making decisions about community services, distributing federal funds to local, state, and tribal governments, and to provide a search of confidential records for Social Security, passport, legal and other information needs.

The Census Bureau collects

    International Census Information

    The Census Bureau provides the following international census information:

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