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, questions asked, etc., changed 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).
OSU Libraries’ have census material from the 1st Decennial Census (1790) to the current. 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.
Material can also be located by:
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.
The resources listed below can help in locating historic data. Please check the OSU Libraries’ catalog for location and availability where necessary.
Population and Housing Items on the General Census Schedules 1790-2000. (University of Michigan. University of Michigan. Grace York)
Table arranged by census and availability of demographic information based on questions asked on the Decennial Censuses from 1790-2000. Especially useful in quickly determining when specific demographic information is available for.
Research Guides - Decennial Census (Population & Housing). (Columbia University. Columbia University Libraries. Information Services)
Links to resources by census.
Research Guides: Finding Census Tract Data – About Census Tracts. (Michigan State University. MSU Libraries)
Guide to using various popular research databases such as American Factfinder, Social Explorer, etc. to locate census data on the tract level.
Research Guide - U.S. Census and Demographic Information: Historical Census Data. (University of Michigan. University of Michigan Library)
Especially useful is the table listing which databases, etc. have census data by Decennial Census. Michigan-centric, but still very useful in determining search strategies.
American FactFinder2. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Tables, thematic maps, and reference maps.
An extensive collection of family history research databases covering the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other areas. Collection includes U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from 1790 to 1930; historical maps; American Genealogical Biographical Index; Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage; The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1630; Social Security Death Index; WWI Draft Registration Cards; Federal Slave Narratives; a strong Civil War collection, etc. Restricted access.
Census 2000 Gateway. (United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census)
Census Bureau's homepage for Census 2000 information. Links to demographic profiles, ranking tables, redistricting data, and more
Bulk census data from the 2000 Decennial. Limited search and customization capabilities.
Data-Plant Statistical Datasets. (Conquest Systems, Inc.)
Provides access to statistical information from federal agencies, etc. Coverage varies with statistical source. Census data from 1970's on. Also called Proquest Statistical Datasets, Lexis-Nexis Statistical Datasets, or Statistical Datasets. [Access restricted to OSU Affiliates]
GeoLytics. East Brunswick, New Jersey: GeoLytics, Inc., 2005-.
Census information 1970-2010. Normalized data available. [Available by appointment only, ID required, Contact Microforms and Government Information, or Map Room staff to set up an appointment.]
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) - United States Census Data. (University of Michigan. Minnesota Population Center)
Selected data from 1790-2000 Censuses in table format. Includes national, state, and county data.
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series - IPUMS. (University of Minnesota. Minnesota Population Center)
Sample data from 1850-1880, 1900-1920, and 1940-1990 Censuses. Intended for researchers who need sub-samples of census data for local manipulation.
MicroAnalyst. Beverly Hills, California: QueryLogic, 1999.
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, Use in library only, ID required]
Census data from 1990-current, including quick links to ACS data for the United States and by state. Some parts are still under construction.
NHGIS - National Historical Geographic Information System. (University of Minnesota, Minnesota Population Center)
Provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2012.
ProQuest Statistical Insight. Bethesda, Maryland: Congressional Information Service, February 7, 2011- : [Ann Arbor, Michigan]: ProQuest.
Provides abstracts and indexes of statistical information from over 100,000 U.S. government publications from 1973, state and private sources from 1980, and approximately 2000 documents from international organizations from 1983. Incorporates ASI subject and keyword searching. Full text or web links provided for some citations. [Access restricted to OhioLINK members]
Public-Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Links to files containing records for housing units, etc. for the 2000 census. Finding aid for PUMs from earlier censuses.
Social Explorer. Bronxville, New York: Social Explorer.
Provides quick and easy access to current and historical census data and demographic information. The easy-to-use web interface lets users create maps and reports to illustrate, analyze, and understand demography and social change.
Statistics and Data Sets: Population and Housing
Data Sets section provides links to sites maintaining files that can be downloaded for local manipulation.
1990 Census. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.)
Limited searching of the 1990 Decennial Census, and links to resources related to that census.
US2010. (Brown University, Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences)
Contains statistical data drawn from the census, ACS, and other statistical resources, maps based on census data, bridging tract data 1970-2010. Limited customization possible.
Geography – Reference Maps. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Maps available for selected years by preselected topics. Limited customization possible.
Geography – Relationship Files. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
These text files describe geographic relationships. There are two types of relationship files; those that show the relationship between the same type of geography over time (comparability) and those that show the relationship between two types of geography for the same time period.
Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. William Thorndale. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1987.
Shows U.S. county boundary maps for the census decades superimposed on modern county boundaries. Gives background information on each census, including census availability for each county
Maps & Data. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Links to assorted geographic data and maps, such as thermatic maps, census geocoder, Census Data Mapper, TIGER/Line, KMLs, TIGERweb, LandView, etc. available from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Census 2000 Briefs and Special Reports. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Briefs provide overviews of selected topics, special reports provide in-depth analyses.
Census Product Catalog – Product Catalog by Key Subject Categories. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Organized by key subject categories; e.g., Decennial Census, People, Housing, Foreign Trade, Business information, etc. with links to census data, etc.
Current Population Reports. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
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.
Locate census materials distributed to depository libraries since 1976. [Access restricted to OhioLINK members]
Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals by Race, 1790-1990, and by Hispanic Origin, 1970-1990, for Large Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States. Campbell Gibson and Kay Jung. Population Division Working Paper No. 76. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, February 2005.
Links to tables and other historic statistic resources.
Housing Characteristics in the U.S. – Tables. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Selected housing characteristics data from decennial census housing files are presented here for the United States and for each state. Trend analyses are discussed, with graphic illustration at the national level. While the time-period for many of the characteristics will cover 1940 to 2000, it will vary for others based on data collection or availability. These data were compiled from census housing reports and electronic data files. Because some housing concepts have changed over time, see notes at the bottom of tables for references to data comparability.
National Archives and Records Administration.
Census resources such as indexes and search aids for all the censuses (1790 - current).
People and Households - Data by Subject. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Links to tables arranged by topic areas.
Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Population counts (State and County) 1790-1990.
ProQuest Congressional. Bethesda, Maryland: Congressional Information Service, <February 7, 2011->: [Ann Arbor, Michigan]: ProQuest.
Select Congressional Indexes, 1789-1972. Many 19th Century census publications were included in the U.S. Serial Set. This source indexes the Serial Set and other Congressional publications. [Access restricted to OSU Faculty, Staff, and Students]
Publications: Census of Population and Housing. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Electronic versions of the Decennial Census 1790-current. Information by census, then state, etc.
Publications: General & Reference - Reference Manuals ... Census Factfinder for the Nation. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census) 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. . 20.Energy and related statistics. 21. International programs. 22. Data for communities.
Publications by Topics. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Data publications from the Census Bureau by topic and arranged by year.
Reports/Research – Census archive. (Ohio. Development Services Agency)
Limited demographic information from older censuses specific to Ohio.
Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Housing Counts. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Population counts (State and County) 1790-1990, Urban and Rural population 1900-1990, and Housing tables 1940-1990.
Subjects A- Z. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
An alphabetical listing of subjects with links to various censuses.
Statistics in the School - Data Access Tools. (United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census)
Links to resources for accessing census data, maps, and related materials from 1754 to the present.
United States Census. (Internet Archive )
Based on National Archives Records Administration microfilm collection held by the Allen County Public Library for the 1790-1930 Decennial Censuses.
Bureau of the Census Catalog of Publications, 1790-1972. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Social and Economic Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1974.
Electronic. Part of the HathiTrust Project. Based on the annual issues of the Catalog, 1946-1972. Includes Catalog of United States census publications, 1790-1945 prepared by the Census Library Project, Library of Congress
Catalog of United States Census Publications 1790-1945. Henry J. Dubester. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1950.
Standard reference for historic census publications. Call numbers for 1950 OSU holdings penciled in margins.
Catalog of United States Census Publications 1790-1945. Henry J. Dubester. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1971.
Standard reference for historic census publications.
Census Catalog and Guide. United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1985-1998.
Annual. OSU Libraries have 1985-1998. Census products available for sale by the Census Bureau and Government Printing Office. Updated by the Monthly Product Announcement.
Demographic Trends in the 20th Century. Frank Hobbs and Nicole Stoops. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, November 2002.
Data tables cover demographic information from 1990-2000.
General Censuses and Vital Statistics in the Americas. Irene B. Taeuber. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1943.
An annotated bibliography of the historical censuses and current vital statistics of colonies in the new world including colonial North, Central and South America, through the 1940 Decennial Census, etc. Also available from OSUL.
Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. United States Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907-1908.
Based on Census records a list of heads of families in 1790. The listing is not complete since returns for Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia were destroyed by fire and/or were missing at the time the list was created. Names taken from earlier colonial census taken between 1782-1785 have been used to attempt to fill in the gaps. Web versions for Maine, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia are available.
Population Information in Nineteenth Century Census Volumes. Suzanne Schulze. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 1983.
Census questions, geographic areas, and citations to and detailed contents of census publications for each of the first eleven (1790-1890) censuses.
Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1900-1940. Suzanne Schulze. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 1985.
Census questions, geographic areas, and citations to and detailed contents of census publications.
Population Information in Twentieth Century Census Volumes: 1950-1980. Suzanne Schulze. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 1988.
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.
Subject Index to the 1980 Census of Population and Housing. Polly-Alida Farrington. Clifton Park, New York: Specialized Information Products: 1985.
Lists 1980 census data characteristics by subject etc. and directs user to appropriate census product and table(s).
Subject Index to the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. Michael R. Lavin, Jane Weintrop, and Cynthia Cornelius. New York, New York: Epoch Books, 1997.
Index to tables in print and CD-ROM Census products. Also provides definitions of Census terminology.
Topical Index of Population Census Reports, 1900-1930. Olive M. Riddleberger. Washington, D.C. United States. Bureau of the Census, 1934.
Topical index to census reports on population from 1900 thru 1930. Coverage includes data at the national, state, metropolitan area and county levels.
Census Atlas of the United States. Trudy A. Suchen, Marc J. Perry, James D. Fitzsimmons, Anika E. Juhn, Alexander M. Tait, and Cynthia A. Brewer. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007.
Comprehensive atlas highlighting demographic, social, and economic data from 1790 through 2000. Updated atlas includes maps, figures, and text covering assorted population and housing characteristics.
County and City Data Book. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1952-. Irregular.
Supplement to the Statistical Abstract providing tables for smaller geographic areas. Formed by the merger of: Cities Supplement; and County Data Book. CD-ROM version also available.
Historical Statistics of the United States. United States. Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: The Bureau: [for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976].
Selected data from 1790-1970, most tables are national level, some state tables.
Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Housing Counts. (United States. Bureau of the Census).
Selected tables/publications arranged by years on assorted topics.
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.
American Statistics Index. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Information Service.
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. (U.S. Government Publishing Office)
Finding aid for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keywords
Data Tools and Apps. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Links to census related databases, etc.
Research Databases List Arranged by Subject: Newspapers. (The Ohio State University. The Ohio State University Libraries)
A list with links to of various newspaper indexes and databases that OSUL subscribes to.
State Data Center (SDC) Program. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
The SDC lead agencies organize a statewide network of coordinating and affiliate agencies. This network works in partnership with the Census Bureau through the Customer Liaison and Marketing Services Office (CLMSO) and the Census Bureau's 6 Regional Offices for data dissemination at the very local level.
Links to the official website of each state, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, etc.
200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions 1790-1990. Frederick G. Bohme. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census, November 1989.
Details on how the population and housing inquires have evolved over the decades from 1790-1990. Also available online.
1930 - The Story of the Census. (United States Census Bureau)
Unique look into the 1930 Census giving a an overview of the census process that took place. Video.
1990 Census Data Locator. (University of Michigan Documents Center. Grace York)
Census questionnaire facsimile, list of census products, census terminology, links to other online sources.
1990 Census of Population and Housing Guide. United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: GPO 1993.
200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990. Fredrick G. Bohme. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1989.
Overview of the Decennial Censuses from 1790 thru 1990. Also available online.
American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790. Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D. Harrington. New York, New York: Columbia University Press, 1932.
Information about censuses conducted prior to 1790.
Census: 190 Years of Counting America. Daniel Stephen Halacy. New York, New York: Elsevier/Nelson Books, 1980.
Background on the censuses.
Census '80: Continuing the Factfinder Tradition. Charles P. Kaplan and Thomas L. Van Valey.Washington: GPO, 1980.
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.
Census ’90 Basics. Molly Abramowitz. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, 1990.
Overview of the 1990 census. Explanations of census geography are especially useful.
Census '90 Basic: Census Planning, Census Collecting, Processing Questionnaires, Tabulating Results, Geographic Tools, Data Products. Molly Abramowitz. 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.
A Century of Population Growth in the United States 1790-1900. United States. Department of Commerce and Labor. Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909.
Provides an overview of Censuses from 1790 to 1900. Includes tables, etc.
Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census. Margo J. Anderson, editor. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000.
Provides an overview of Census concepts and issues from 1790 to the present. Includes thematic maps, tables, and charts.
The History and Growth of the United States Census. Carroll D. Wright. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, February 24, 1900.
History of the Decennial Censuses.
List of Useful Census References. (ancestry.com)
Reprint of “Census Records” by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Matthew Wright in The Source: A Guide to American Genealogy. Contains a list of helpful books, etc. for doing census research.
Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. Jason G. Gauthier. Revised Edition. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census, September 2002.
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)
The Population of the United States. Douglas L. Anderson, Richard E. Barrett and Donald J. Bogue. 3rd Edition. New York, New York: The Free Press, 1997.
Discussion of population growth and trends. Geared towards scholars, but also usable by the layman.
Preparing for Census 2000: Subjects Planned for Census 2000: Federal Legislative and Program Uses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, .
Overview of federal agencies using census data, including how they use it and the laws requiring the use of census data.
The Story of the Census,1790-1916. United States. Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office 1916.
Overview of Censuses from 1790-1910 with charts, graphs, tables, maps, etc.
Twenty Censuses: Population and Housing Questions 1790-1980. Frederick G. Bohme. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census, October 1979.
Details on how the population and housing inquires have evolved over the decades from 1790-1980. Also available on online.
Understanding the Census: A Guide for Marketers, Planners, Grant Writers, and Other Data Users. Michael R. Lavin. New York: Epoch Books, 1996.
Detailed explanations of census terms, products, and uses.
Uses for Questions on the Census 2000 Forms. (United States Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census)
Overview of federal agencies using census data, including how they use it and the laws requiring the use of census data.
Using the 1990 Census for Research. Richard E. Barrett. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications 1994.
Provides an overview of the 1990 Census and issues and problems in using Census data.