Ivan Petrof was a special agent for the Tenth Census of the United States (1880) in Alaska, and prepared the Report on the Population, Industries, and Resources of Alaska, part of Volume VIII of the Tenth Census, published in 1884.
Following the 1880 census, Petrof lived in Kodiak, AK, and worked as assistant collector of Customs at Kodiak from 1883 to 1887. For the 1890 census, he served as director of the enumeration in Alaska.
In 1892, while preparing the census results, he was asked to serve as a translator for the U.S. State Department in connection with the Bering Sea Arbitration. Afterward, it was discovered that he had inserted his own opinions into the translated Russian documents, embarrassing the United States, since his translations had already been submitted to the tribunal. The incident ended his public career and called his previous work into question.
Despite the controversy, Ivan Petrof remains a well-known figure in Alaska's history. In addition to his census work, Petrof authored much of H.H. Bancroft's 1886, History of Alaska. The state named Petrof Bay, on the Alaskan panhandle's Kuiu Island, after Petrof in honor of his achievements.