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transferred to the custody of the Department of Agriculture, while the special veterans schedules were transferred, by direction of Congress, to the Pension Bureau, as already stated. The schedules relating to education, fisheries, mines and mining, and other special subjects, have been preserved, but it is doubtful if provision is made for binding any schedules other than those relating to population and manufactures.


The necessity for the establishment of a permanent statistical bureau to which the work of the decennial census could be intrusted, in connection with other duties, was recognized, indirectly at least, as early as 1815.

At that time two elaborate reports were made by a select committee of the House of Representatives urging the importance of establishing a bureau of commerce and statistics in the Treasury Department, and although no mention is made of the census work in either of these reports, this same committee, in another report (a) relative to certain errors in the census of 1840, to which the attention of Congress had been directed by various memorials, stated that the defects of this census form a strong argument for the establishment of a bureau of statistics.

Nothing came of this effort, however, and the Bureau of Statistics in the Treasury Department was not provided for urtil 1865.

Mr. De Bow, who superintended the preparation of the report of the seventh census, in the introduction to the Compendium of that census () makes a strong plea for the establishment of a regular statistical office, as a matter of economy and essential to the proper execution of the census, and in this connection used the following significant language:

Unless there is machinery in advance at the seat of Government no census can ever be properly taken and published. There is a peculiar education required for these labors which neither comes from zeal or genius, but is the result only of experience. They are the most irksome and trying imaginable, requiring inexhaustible patience and endurance, and battling almost every effort after accuracy. Long familiarity can alone secure system, economy, and certainty of result. This office machinery exists in all European countries where statistics are the most reliable, but there has been none of it in the United States. Each census has taken care of itself. Every ten years some one at Washington will enter the hall of a department, appoint fifty or a hundred persons under him, who, perhaps, have never compiled a table before, and are incapable of combining a column of figures correctly, Hundreds of thousands of pages of returns are placed in the hands of such persons to be digested.°If any are qualified it is no merit of the a House Reports, Twenty-eighth Congress, first session, Vol. III, No. 579. 6 Compendium of the Seventh Census, p. 18.

system. In 1840 returns were given out by the job to whoever would take them. In 1850 such was the pressure of work that almost any one could at times have had a desk. Contrast this with the English system and reflect that one individual, as heretofore remarked, presided over the census of 1801, 1811, 1821, and 1831. In Washington, as soon as an office acquires familiarity with statistics, and is educated to accuracy and activity, it is disbanded, and even the best qualified employee is suffered to depart. The Government may rely upon paying heavily for the experience which is being acquired.

No suggestion beyond this or provision was made, however, for a permanent census office at that time, but beginning with 1860 recommendations for the establishment of a national bureau of statistics were embodied in the annual reports of the Secretary of the Interior up to and including the year 1865. Secretary J. F. Thompson, in his last annual report dated November 30, 1860, suggested the propriety and importance of establishing a bureau of statistics, but beyond referring to the fact that once in each period of ten years the country is supplied with certain information regarding our agricultural, manufacturing, and mining interests, made no direct reference to the census. The report of Secretary Caleb B. Smith, the following year, under date of November 30, 1861, contained a recommendation for the establishment of a bureau of agriculture and statistics, upon which would naturally devolve the charge of the census, for which timely preparations would be made, and its administration conducted with improved accuracy and ease.” Secretary Smith renewed this recommendation in his annual report of November 29, 1862, and again in 1863 the need at the seat of Government of a bureau of national statistics was urged upon Congress, in the annual report of Secretary J. P. Usher, dated December 5, 1863, in which the statement was made that “such a bureau could be established now with but little outlay, and if made to include the duty of enumerating the population of the United States, for which purpose a bureau is now required to be temporarily organized every ten years, at considerable expense and labor, would effect a positive saving to the Treasury, while the work would be better performed, as the office would then be permanent, and the experience gained in the operations of one decade not wholly lost before the next was entered upon, as is now the case.” The matter was again referred to by Secretary Usher in his annual report dated December 5, 1864, in which the importance of the organization of a permanent bureau of statistics, charged among other duties with that of compiling the census returns and superintending the publication thereof, was emphasized, while the report of Secretary James Harlan, under date of December 4, 1865, suggested the expediency of providing means to enable the making of annual reports on population, manufacturing, and other material interests.

Similar suggestions may have been made since for the establishment of a central bureau of statistics at Washington, but no direct action to vard providing for a permanent census office was taken by Congress until February 16, 1891, when the Senate adopted a resolution directing the Secretary of the Interior “to consider the expediency of the establishment of a permanent census bureau, and to embody the results of his consideration with a draft of a bill, should he consider it expedient, for the establishment of such census bureau, in a special report to be made to the Senate at the opening of the Fifty-second Congress." This resolution was referred by the Secretary of the Interior to the Superintendent of Census, Hon. Robert P. Porter, for his consideration, and his report was transmitted by the honorable Secretary of the Interior to the Senate December 7, 1891.(a) In this report Mr. Porter gave his own opinions, as well as those of others, and recommended the establishment of a permanent census bureau. The report, which was exceedingly valuable and exhaustive, was accompanied by a draft of a bill to establish a permanent census office and to provide for the taking of the twelfth and subsequent censuses, and contained a vast amount of evidence on the subject from statisticians, churchmen, representatives of commercial organizations, commissioners of agriculture, officers of boards of health, officers of institutions for the insane, deaf, dumb, and other defective classes, officers of State bureaus of labor, heads of great labor organizations, and others interested in having a permanent census organization. The National Board of Trade, at its twenty-first annual meeting, held in New Orleans in December, 1890, adopted resolutions appointing a committee to make a report contemplating permanence of statistical and enumerating officials, and a proper separation of the times in which enumeration of population is required by the Constitution and the collection of general statistical information. Many of the boards of trade and chambers of commerce memorialized Congress for the establishment of a permanent census office or adopted resolutions indorsing such movement.

In February, 1893, the Select Committee of the House of Representatives on the Eleventh Census, to whom bad been referred a resolution instructing the committee to inquire into the expediency of establishing a permanent census bureau, submitted a report (6) containing the evidence of various parties who had appeared before it, and recommending the passage of a bill, which accompanied the report, similar in most respects to that drawn by Mr. Porter and submitted by the Secretary of the Interior in his report to the Senate.

No final action was taken by Congress with respect to either of these two bills, and nothing more was done toward providing for a perma

a Senate Ex. Doc. No. 1, Fifty-second Congress, first session.
b House Reports, Fifty-second Congress, second session, No. 2393.
S. Doc. 194 6

nent census office until March 19, 1896, when, by a joint resolution relating to the Federal census, the Commissioner of Labor was directed to report to the Congress, for its consideration, as soon as practicable, a plan for a permanent census service.

Following the passage of this joint resolution, a memorial (a) was presented to Congress by a joint committee appointed by the American Economic Association and the American Statistical Association to consider the question of the organization of the twelfth census, in which the attention of Congress was respectfully called to the importance of establishing at once a permanent and independent census office. The memorialists state that in so doing they are actuated by an earnest desire for the scientific development of statistics in the United States; that they represent learned societies, whose members come, through their professional duties, in constant, almost daily, contact with the work of the census; that they represent the point of view of those who use statistics, and that it is in the general interest that they plead for methods of census administration which would tend to increase its efficiency and heighten the value of its results. And in this connection the memorialists further say:

In many departments of statistical work the publications of the United States Government occupy an honorable place. Through the liberal provision which has been made in the past for statistical inquiry, the United States has been able to contribute substantially to the development of statistical methods and to the extension of statistical research. But the work of the Government is uneven, and sometimes fails to reach the highest standard. This is true of the census, the largest statistical undertaking of the Government, upon which money and effort are so generously lavished. There can not be a moment's doubt that this work should be brought to the highest possible standard of statistical excellence.

It is no reproach to the census as a whole, nor to the gentlemen who have administered the census office, to say that in many respects the census reports are unsatisfactory to us as students of statistics and to the people of the United States.

We allude particularly to the attempt to cover too much ground, the enormous cost of the undertaking, and the delay in the publication of the completed tabular results. These criticisms all grow out of the legislation under which the census is taken. The defects of our present temporary organization may be summarized under the following heads:

1. Accumulation of inquiries at the same period of time. 2. The lack of continuity in census work.

3. The haste with which the whole machinery of the census is placed in motion.




The permanent and independent census furnishes the best guaranties for improvement in statistical work, if established under proper conditions. But it would be a grave misfortune to postpone the organization of such a bureau until shortly before the time for taking

a Senate Doc., Fifty-fourth Congress, second session, No. 68.

the next census. We can not urge too strongly that consideration be given at an early date to this question. If, as it should, the census of 1900 is to be an advance over those of preceding years, thorough preparation for the work is indispensable. We are convinced that the gravest difficulty which has hitherto impeded the work of the census is the haste with which it has been planned and executed.

It is not alone in the interest of statistical science, but in the interests of the public, which has an undoubted right to the most accurate and prompt information which the census office can furnish, that we urge the adoption of a measure which will attain this end and mark distinct progress in the statistical work of the Government.

In accordance with the provisions of the joint resolution of March 19, 1896, the Commissioner of Labor, under date of December 7, 1896, submitted a report (a) on a plan for a permanent census service, in the form of a tentative bill providing simply for an organic administrative act, by which an independent census office was to be established, leaving the details of the twelfth and subsequent censuses to the officers, respectively, having them in charge. This report was referred to the Senate Committee on the Census, and on January 9, 1897, an informal hearing was had before the Senate Committee on the Census and members of the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives, before which the Commissioner of Labor appeared, at the request of the chairman of the Census Committee. The bill practically as submitted by the Commissioner of Labor was introduced in the House January 14, 1897, by Mr. Sayers, of the Committee on Appropriations, to which committee it was referred, and in the Senate January 18, 1897, by Senator Chandler, the chairman of the Census Committee. Similar bills providing for a permanent census service, but charging the work upon the Department of Labor, were introduced later in the same month in the House and Senate by Mr. Sayers and Senator Chandler, respectively, and referred in the House to the Committee on Appropriations and in the Senate to the Committee on the Census. No result was reached, however, by either the House or Senate, and the matter of census legis. lation went over to the Fifty-fifth Congress.


At the second session of the Fifty-fifth Congress a general bill providing for taking the twelfth and subsequent censuses, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, as heretofore, but limiting the work of the decennial enumeration to four subjects, was passed June 16, 1898, by the Senate, and this bill was later presented in the House and referred to a select committee on the twelfth census. At the third session of the same Congress a substitute bill was passed by the House February 6, 1899, calling for the establishment of a census office

a Senate Doc., Fifty-fourth Congress, second session, No. 5.

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