The federal census has been conducted every ten years since 1790.
For genealogists, the most important part of the Census is the "Census Schedule" or "enumeration." This is the part that contains people's names.
The Decennial censuses collected information on population and some other subjects.
Each household is contacted by a census-taker (enumerator) and information is recorded about the head of the household and all the members. Statistical tables are compiled from that information; no individual names are included. This is what most people think of when they hear the word census.
The original schedules with the personal information are not released to protect the privacy of the individuals. After 72 years, the information is made public. The most recent schedules are from the 1940 census.
Each census has asked different questions. Information about the Census Questions is very important.
Originally created for the Library Workshop: Advanced Census for Genealogy Research, Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Created by Rebecca Knight, Associate Librarian, and Linda Stein, Librarian, of the Library Reference and Instructional Services Department.