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chemical products and salt; coke and glass; shipbuilding; and all aspects of fisheries and mining, including the production of coal and petroleum.

Interdecennial Censuses of States and Territories: 1885

In addition to the 1880 Census, the 1879 census act also provided for interdecennial censuses by any state or territory, through their duly appointed officers, during the 2 months beginning with the first Monday of June 1885 {State Censuses: An Annotated Bibliography of Census of Population Taken After the Year 1790 by States and Territories of the United States, Prepared by Henry J. Dubester). The schedules used were to be similar in all respects to those used by the federal census. Upon completion of a state or territorial census, certified copies of the returns were to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Interior by September 1 of the interdecennial year. States or territories opting to conduct these censuses were provided 50 percent of the total cost to cover census operations. As a result, the states of Florida, Nebraska, and Colorado, and the territories of New Mexico and Dakota conducted censuses in 1 885. Copies of the returns were sent to the Department of the Interior, but the data were not published.

The Eleventh Census: 1890

The census of 1890 was taken, under the supervision of Robert P. Porter,14 according to an act of March 1, 1889, and modeled after that used for the 1880 Census.

The enumeration began on June 2, 1890, because June 1 was a Sunday. The census employed 1 75 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, exclusive of Alaska and Indian territory. Each subdivision assigned to an enumerator was not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. Enumeration was to be completed in cities with populations under 10,000 (according to the 1880 Census results) was to be completed within 2 weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all the information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.

As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations of manufactures,15 Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education, insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by experts and special agents.

Robert B. Porter served as Superintendant of Census until his resignation on July 31, 1893. On October 3, 1893, Congress enacted a law that directed census-related work to continue under the direction of the Commissioner of Labor. On March 2, 1 895, a further act of Congress closed the census office and transferred the unfinished work to the office of the Secretary of the Interior, where it continued until July 1, 1897.'6

The results of the 1890 Census are contained in 25 volumes, plus a three-part compendium, statistical atlas, and an abstract. The complete results from the special enumeration of survivors of the Civil War were not published (the schedules of which were turned over to the Bureau of Pensions); however, the special inquiry on Schedule 1 (general population schedule) regarding Union and Confederate veterans were published in the report on population.

The Twelfth Census: 1900

The twelfth census of the United States was conducted under the terms of the census act of March 3, 1 899, and supervised by the Director of the Census, William R. Merriam. The enumeration was conducted in each state and organized territory, including Washington, DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and "Indian Territory."'7 The census was taken as of June 1, 1900, and was to be completed in 2 weeks in places of 8,000 inhabitants or more (as of the 1890 Census) and 1 month in rural districts. The United States and its territories were divided into 297 supervisors' districts, which were subdivided into 52,726 enumeration districts.

The enumeration of military and naval personnel (within the country and abroad) was conducted through the Departments of War and the Navy. Similarly, the enumeration of the "Indian Territory" was carried out in cooperation with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Large institutions (prisons, hospitals, etc.) were enumerated through the appointment of special "institution" enumerators.

Enumerators were much more closely supervised during the 1900 Census. In large cities, special agents were appointed to assist the census supervisor. Enumerators used "street books," in which a record of each enumerator's work was made on a daily basis. Enumerators used individual census slips for obtaining a correct return for any person (particularly lodgers and boarders) absent at the time of the enumerator's visit. Additionally, "absent family" schedules were used for securing a complete record for any person residing within the enumeration district, but temporarily absent.

14Robert P. Porter was appointed as Superintendent of Census by the President on April 1 7, 1 889. He resigned the position on July 31, 1893.

"In 1890, the manufactures schedules were withdrawn from the general enumeration for 1,042 "important" manufacturing centers (opposed to 279 in 1 880). Special agents were responsible for collecting the detailed data in these areas.

l6The Commissioner of Labor continued his supervisory role of census-related work until October 5, 1897 (serving since October 1, 1865 without compensation), when upon his request, he was relieved by the Secretary of Interior.

1 'Censuses were not conducted until 1890 of Indian Territory. Alaska's first census was conducted in 1880. Hawaii was annexed by the United States on August 12, 1898. Therefore, the 1900 Census was the first census of the islands taken under the supervision of the United States. The Hawaiian Government, however, did conduct censuses every 6 years, from 1866 to 1896.

Measuring America

133 Under the provisions of the census act of July 2, 1909, the thirteenth census was administered. In accordance with the provisions of the act, general population and Indian population schedules were prepared. The schedules used for Hawaii and Puerto Rico, although similar to the general population schedule, differed slightly from those used within the United States.

Census enumerators began canvassing the Nation on April 15, 1910.'8 The law gave census takers 2 weeks to complete their work in cities of 5,000 inhabitants or more, while enumerators in smaller and rural areas were allotted 30 days to complete their task.

The Fourteenth Census: 1920

The Fourteenth Census Act of July 2, 1909, provided for the 1920 and subsequent censuses; however, numerous minor changes were sought prior to the census, so a new law was enacted on March 3, 1919. This act designated a 3-year decennial census period, beginning July 1, 1919. During this 3-year period, the act provided for an increased work force at the Census Bureau's headquarters in Washington, DC, and for the creation of a special field force to collect census data.

Section 20, of the Fourteenth Census Act, provided that the enumeration of the population should be made as of January 1, 1920.'9 Under the direction of the Director of the Census, Samuel L. Rogers, the work of actual enumeration began on January 2, 1920. The census covered the United States, the outlying possessions (excluding the Philippines and the Virgin Islands, the military, Red Cross, consular services abroad, and the naval service abroad or in American waters, but not on a fixed station.)20

For the country as a whole and for states and political subdivisions within the country, the population enumerated was the resident population. The enumerators (according to the census law), were instructed to enumerate persons at their "usual place of abode"—i.e., their permanent home or

"The change of "census day" from June 1 to April 1 5 was made upon the suggestion of the Census Bureau. It was believed that the April 1 5 date would be more desirable, since a large number of people are away from their homes in June.

l9The date was changed upon the request of the Department of Agriculture and users of agricultural statistics. The new date had advantages for the agricultural census—the past years work on all farms had been finished, and the new years work had not yet begun. The majority of farmers would have been occupying the farms they had the previous year, whereas, a few months later, many renters would have moved to other farms. Furthermore, the birth of livestock increases greatly during the Spring and early Summer. Therefore, a livestock census referring to January 1, 1920, would be far more valuable than one taken several months later.

20No provision was made by the Fourteenth Census Act for the enumeration of the Philippines. Censuses of the Philippines were conducted by the Philippine Commission in 1903. A second was conducted by the Philippines Government on December 31, 191 8 (but called the "1919 Census"). A special census of the Virgin Islands was conducted by the United States, November 1, 1917.

the places where they happened to be found by the enumerators or where they transacted their daily business. Persons temporarily absent from their usual places of abode (i.e., on business, traveling, attending school, or in hospitals) were enumerated at the places where they habitually resided and the information for these people was obtained from relatives or acquaintances. Persons having no fixed place of abode were required by the census law to be enumerated where they slept on the night of January 1, 1920.

The Fifteenth Census: 1930

Under the direction of William M. Steuart, Director of the Census, and in accordance with the Fifteenth Census Act, approved June 1 8, 1929, "a census of population, agriculture, irrigation, drainage, distribution, unemployment, and mines [was] taken by the Director of the Census" on April 1 , 1 930. The census encompassed each state and Washington, DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. A census of Guam, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands was taken in the same year by the islands' respective governors, and a census of the Panama Canal Zone was taken by the governor of that area.

In addition to population data, the 1930 census also collected the following statistics:

Agriculture. Acreage of farm; value of land and buildings; mortgage debt; expenditures for labor, feed, and fertilizer; farm machinery and facilities; acreage, yield, and value of crops; quantity and value of livestock.

Manufacturing (with similar data collected from mines and quarries). Quantity and value of products; the number of salaried employees and wage earners; aggregate payments for salaries and wages; the cost of materials and fuel.

Distribution. Kind of business; type of operation; net sales; number of employees; total amount paid in salaries and wages; stocks on hand.

Construction. Data was collected from general contractors, subcontractors, and operative builders regarding value of construction; wage payments; cost of materials; and subcontract work performed or let.


Data from families and establishments were transferred to punch cards—approximately 300,000,000 in all21—and were processed by electronic sorting and "automatic tabulating machine" at the rate of approximately 400 per minute. These tabulations provided the raw data necessary for the compilation of statistical tables prepared by clerks and statisticians.22

^Approximately 125,000,000 punch cards were used to tabulate the data for the population. Fifteen or more cards were required for each farm, thus, the census of agriculture comprised an additional 1 50,000,000 cards.

"William L. Austin, "Bureau of the Census," reprinted from. The United States Department of CommerceHow it Serves You on Land, And Sea, And in The Air. Pp. 4-5.


Measuring America A Census of Unemployment was conducted, in conjunction with the 1930 census, by an act of May 3, 1 928. This special enumeration collected data on persons who usually worked for wages or a salary, but were not working at the time the census was taken.

William M. Steuart, Director of the Census, said "the results of the [unemployment] census will furnish a picture of the unemployment situation as indicated not only by the number of unemployed but by the attendant circumstance of unemployment. It will bring the answer to certain fundamental questions about which nothing definite is known at present. Obviously, something more than a mere knowledge of the number of persons out of work is needed, if we are to measure fairly and accurately, without exaggeration and without understatement, the gravity of the unemployment situation. We need the census to know the facts.23"

Enumerators were instructed to complete an unemployment schedule for every person responding "No" in column 25 of the general population schedule. The "unemployed" were grouped into two classes—those having a job but temporarily laid-off on account of a lack of orders, weather, sickness, etc.; and those who were unemployed but want to work.

The unemployment census provided data concerning the number of men and women unemployed, the average age of the unemployed, how many of the unemployed were married and single, how long they had been out of work, and the leading reasons for unemployment in the United States. Data were made available for the Nation, individual segments of the population (i.e., by age, race, marital status, etc.), and for the foreign-born and native populations.

The Sixteenth Census: 1940

The Sixteenth Census of the United States covered the continental United States, Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, the military and consular services abroad, and naval services abroad or in American waters, but not at a fixed station.24 Persons in the military services were enumerated as residents of the states, counties, and minor civil divisions in which their posts of duty were located (members of their families were enumerated at the place in which they resided). The crews of American merchant marine vessels were enumerated as part of the population of the port from which the vessel operated.

the 1910 apportionment remained in effect. Consequently, the 1 929 act included provisions that, for the 1930 and subsequent censuses, (unless the Congress, within a specified time enacted legislation providing for apportionment on a different basis) the apportionment should automatically be made by the method last used. In accordance with this act, a report was submitted by the President to the Congress on December 4, 1 930, showing the apportionment computations both by the method of major fractions (which was used in 1910) and by the method of equal proportions. In 1931, in the absence of additional legislation, the method of major fractions was automatically followed.25

In the application of this method, the Representatives are so assigned that the average population per Representative has the least possible variation as between one state and any other. As a result, California gained three Representatives between 1930 and 1940 and six other states— Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee—each gained one. To balance these gains (since the number of Representatives in the House was not changed), nine states lost one Representative each—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

Four notable changes were made to the 1940 Census, including the addition of the housing schedule, the sampling procedure (both discussed in further detail below), the incorporation of the questions on employment and unemployment onto the general population26 schedule, and inquiries into migration.27

1940 Census of Housing

On August 11,1939, a national census of housing was approved by the Congress, "to provide information concerning the number, characteristics (including utilities and equipment), and geographic distribution of dwelling structures and dwelling units in the United States. The Director of the Census shall take a census of housing in each state, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Alaska, in the year 1940 in conjunction with, and at the same time, and as part of the population inquiry of the sixteenth decennial census."

The housing inquiries were collected via a separate census, partly because they were added by legislation late in the census planning, and partly because the nature of the questions so differed from those of the census of population.

"Undated memorandum, "The Census of Unemployment." Pp. 3-4.

24Again, the Philippine Islands were not included in the United States decennial census. The commonwealth of the Philippines conducted a census in 1939. The statistics from this census were then included in the data from the 1940 Census.

25ln 1941, this law was amended to the effect that apportionment based on the 1940 and subsequent censuses should be made by the method of equal proportions.

26These inquiries had been made by special Census of Unemployment in 1 930 (See 1930 Unemployment Census).

27A question was added asking, for each person 5 years old and above, the residence on April 1, 193S. These data were coded and compared to the place of residence in 1940, thus providing, for the first time, statistics on population movement.

Measuring America

135 The information collected by the two schedules was collected, however, by the same enumerator, at the same time as those for the population schedule.

Use of Sampling in the 1940 Census. The 1940 sample was a representative cross-section of the entire population. Tabulations made from the sample would be as nearly as possible the same as if information concerning every person had been obtained. The sample enlarged the scope of the census and facilitated tabulations in the following ways:

■ Since the supplementary questions were asked only

1 /20th (5-percent sample) as often as they would have in a complete census, the speed of field work was increased and carried out at a reduced cost, thus making it possible to carry more questions on the schedule.

■ Tabulations based on the sample could be completed months ahead of the regular tabulations prepared from the general population—an especially important feature in times of national emergency and for obtaining quick preliminary counts of the distribution of the labor force by area, sex, age, etc.

■ The reduced cost of sample tabulations permitted the publication of data that otherwise would not be possible.

■ Sample cards could be stored for subsequent tabulations not feasible for the entire population as the need arose.

■ Sampling helped to adapt the census to newly developed needs, and to maintain continuity from one census to another.

Participants were selected for the sample by designating 2 of the 40 lines on each side of the schedule as sample lines and instructing the enumerators to ask the supplementary questions for each person whose name happened to fall on these lines. This method resulted in a 5-percent sample of all the lines in each geographic area. The actual percentage of persons drawn from the sample from any district would vary by chance, depending on how the names happened to "line up" as the enumerators proceeded with their enumeration.

The Seventeenth Census: 1950

As in 1930 and 1940, the 1950 Census was conducted according to the terms of the Fifteenth Census Act. The enumeration began on April 1, 1950, with 90 percent of the population having been enumerated by the end of the month (weather delayed enumeration in some areas until mid-May). All but 1 percent of the population had been enumerated by the end of June 1950.

The 1950 census encompassed the continental United
States, the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii, American
Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin
Islands of the United States, and some of the smaller

islands and island groups within the United States' possession.28 The census also made special provisions for the enumeration of American citizens living abroad (and their dependents), including the armed forces of the United States, employees of the United States Government, and the crews of vessels in the American Merchant Marine at sea or in foreign ports.

The census of Americans living abroad was attempted through cooperative arrangements with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the United States Maritime Administration, and other federal agencies concerned. These agencies took the responsibility for the distribution and collection of specially designed census questionnaires for individuals and households. Other persons living abroad were to be reported by their families or neighbors in the United States; however, the quality of these data was considered suspect and they were not included in the published statistics.

Procedures to improve coverage. Several aids were employed to improve the completeness of the 1950 Census coverage. The most prominent were as follows:

■ A longer and better planned period of training was provided for enumerators.

■ Each enumerator was furnished with a map of his enumeration district, showing the boundaries of the area for which they were responsible.

e An infant card had to be completed for each baby born after January 1, 1 950 (since experience had shown that babies are easily missed).

■ A crew leader was assigned to supervise each group of approximately 1 5 enumerators. The crew leader was responsible for helping enumerators with "problem cases" and for spot-checking a sample of the dwelling units assigned to them.

■ A special enumeration of persons in hotels, tourist courts, and other places where transients usually pay for quarters was made the night of April 11,1950. "Missed Person" forms were published in newspapers at the end of the field canvassing operations so persons who thought they had been missed could complete a form and mail it to the district supervisors.

■ District supervisors made preliminary announcements of the population counted so that any complaints concerning the completeness of the enumeration could be submitted before the field offices were closed. If the evidence indicated an appreciable undercount, a re-enumeration of the area was conducted.

28Although some smaller islands and island groups did not participate in the census, data for their populations were collected from other sources and included in the 1950 census.


Measuring America

■ Rates of population change were studied to evaluate the enumeration's completeness.

■ Vital and immigration statistics were used in conjunction with census data. (Since the population at a given census should represent the population at the previous census, with additions and subtractions resulting from births, deaths, and immigration, it is possible to calculate the expected population on a given census date and compare the actual total received.)

Following these procedures improved the coverage of the 1950 census over that of the 1940 census.29 (The components of population change were probably estimated more accurately during the 1940s than for the 1930s because not all states were consistently registering births and deaths until 1933.)

Post-Enumeration Survey. The 1950 census was further checked using a post-enumeration survey, in which a re-enumeration, on a sample basis, was conducted. The Census Bureau recanvassed a probability sample of about 3,500 small areas and compared these to the original census listings to identify households omitted from the enumeration. In addition to the check for omitted households, a sample of about 22,000 households was reinterviewed to determine the number of persons omitted in cases where the household had been included.

The Post-Enumeration Survey interviewers were given intensive training and supervision. Efforts were made to limit respondents to the person who was presumably best informed regarding the information desired, i.e., the person themselves. These precautions resulted in an expense per case in the Post-Enumeration Survey many times that of the original enumeration, and affordable only on a samplebasis.

The Eighteenth Census: 1960

The 1960 census began on April 1, 1960, in accordance with the requirements of an act of August 31, 1954 (amended August 1957), which codified Title 13 of the United States Code. By mid-April, 85 percent of the population of the United States had been enumerated with the count up to 98 percent by the end of the month. Several notable changes were made in the procedures for taking and tabulating the census. These changes were: 1) the greater use of sampling, 2) the development of procedures enabling most householders an opportunity to consult other members and available records when completing

the questionnaire for their families, and 3) the use of electronic equipment for nearly all data processing work.30

Sampling. In the 1960 census, a 25-percent sample was used. The greater use of sampling meant that the totals for some of the smaller areas were subject to a moderate amount of sampling variation, the usefulness of the statistics was not significantly impaired. Using a 25-percent sample of households eliminated nearly 75 percent of the processing expenses otherwise required for the items in the sample.

Enumeration procedures. The 1960 enumeration was divided into two stages—the first concentrating on quick coverage of the population and the collection of a few items for every person and dwelling unit, and the second devoted to the collection of the more detailed economic and social information required for sample households and dwelling units. Both stages used questionnaires left at the residence to be filled out by one or more members of the family.

The enumeration began prior to April 1, 1960, when an advance census form was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to each household. The time between delivery of the form and the arrival of an enumerator to collect the household's information allowed the household to assemble information needed to respond to the census inquiries.

Shortly after April 1, 1960, the second stage of the enumeration began. Enumerators made their rounds to collect the census data and left an additional form—containing the sample inquiries—at every fourth house visited. Households receiving the sample form were asked to complete the form and mail it to their local census office in the postage-paid envelope provided by the enumerator. When these mailed questionnaires were received at the census office, Census Bureau personnel checked the sample forms for accuracy and conducted telephone or personal inquiries to complete unanswered inquiries when necessary.

This two-stage enumeration was believed to be advantageous in that, in the past, enumerators were given only brief special training and were burdened with more instructions and work than they could effectively manage. By creating a two-stage enumeration the field work and training were reduced. Approximately one-third of the enumerator work force was retained for work in the second stage—receiving additional training that focused solely upon the content of the sample questions. In specified areas (about 1 5 percent of the total population, characterized as living in areas of low population density and/or having inferior road networks), the two staged enumeration was combined, so that the enumerator collected and recorded sample data in the same interview in which the 100-percent inquiries were recorded.

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