Historical Background
1790 Census
1800 Census
1810 Census
1820 Census
1830 Census
1840 Census
1850 Census
1860 Census
1870 Census
1880 Census
1890 Census
1900 Census
1910 Census
1920 Census
1930 Census
1940 Census
1950 Census
1960 Census
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Historical United States Census Data Browser

The data presented here describe the population and economy of U.S. states and counties from 1790 to 1960. To begin using the data, click on a year from the list to the left.

Where did the data come from?
Image of a Census Taker The original source of the each decade's data is the decennial census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The electronic data collection presented here was compiled by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) under a grant from the National Science Foundation. The data selection was carried out under guidelines developed by the American Historical Association and reflect an interest in political and economic analyses.

What data are included?
The available data differ somewhat from decade to decade, according to what was collected in the census and the items chosen for transcription to electronic form. For the early decades, most of the enumerated items are included. For later decades, only a portion of characteristics have been transcribed. No information is available below the county level, and only states are included (no information on western territories before statehood, or for the District of Columbia).

In addition to basic counts of population and housing units, all decades contain information on race, gender, and some measure of household size and composition. Beginning with 1840, some economic characteristics such as education and occupation are included. Later decades have many variables, including ancestry, literacy, and income variables. In a few cases, the census data were augmented with information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Council of Churches of Christ.

What can I do on this site?
This site allows you to browse the data files for each decade and choose from the lists of variables. You can produce lists of data by state or county that can be sorted, calculate proportions, or graph any of the variables. The site is not intended as a tool for downloading data for further research or more involved manipulation. Those who require this level of analysis should download the original data from ICPSR. The codebook for this study can be viewed here.

Where can I find out more?
Information on the decennial census is available in Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000. This PDF document is fairly large and may be difficult to download at slow modem speeds. Please email comments@census.gov if you have problems with this link.

For questions on methodology, see: Methodology of this site.

If you have questions concerning this resource, please email geostat@virginia.edu.

This site is made available with the cooperation and consent of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).


Last Modified: Thursday, January 02, 2003