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How were census takers instructed on how to conduct the census?

Census takers received detailed instructions for conducting the censuses. These instructions can be found at the Census Instructions webpage and in Measuring America: The Decennial Census From 1790 to 2000 [16.5MB PDF].

1950 census interview
A census taker conducts an interview of a resident at her Florida mobile home. In 1950, census takers received a copy
of the Enumerator's Reference Manual to assist with census interviews.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: September 02, 2014