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The Census Bureau packages data and information into easy-to-understand visuals.
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Read briefs and reports from Census Bureau experts.
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Read research analyses from Census Bureau experts.
Developer portal to access services and documentation for the Census Bureau's APIs.
Explore Census Bureau data on your mobile device with interactive tools.
Find a multitude of DVDs, CDs and publications in print by topic.
These external sites provide more data.
Download extraction tools to help you get the in-depth data you need.
Explore Census data with interactive visualizations covering a broad range of topics.
How we provide the best mix of timeliness, relevancy, quality, and cost for the data we collect.
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Explore the rich historical background of an organization with roots almost as old as the nation.
Explore prospective positions available at the Census Bureau.
Information about the current field vacancies available at the U.S. Census Bureau Regional Offices.
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The Census Bureau's Director writes on how we measure America's people, places and economy.
Find interesting and quirky statistics regarding national celebrations and major events.
Listen to audio files on fun facts, historical figures, and celebrations of the month.
Find media toolkits, advisories, and all the latest Census news.
See what's coming up in releases and reports.
The census has been guided by authorizing legislation since 1790. Through the mid-nineteenth century, this legislation was very detailed: it listed questions to be asked and gave detailed instructions to the census-takers. Although the Secretary of State was the nominal national head of the early censuses, almost all of the work for the count was done on the state and local level by federal marshals. The lack of national leadership meant that census acts had to be very specific; it was the only way the federal government could assure that the marshals would return standardized information.
As census operations became more centralized and federalized in the latter part of the nineteenth century, legislation relating to the census became less detailed. Instead, it directed broad categories of questions to be asked, and left the actual design of census questionnaires up to the superintendent of the census.
The modern U.S. Census Bureau has been shaped by two pieces of twentieth century legislation: the 1902 legislation that made the Census Office a permanent agency and the 1954 legislation that combined the existing laws governing the Census Bureau's statistical programs and codified them in Title 13. Title 13 is the section of U.S. Code that governs Census Bureau activities to this day.
This section contains a sample of the legislation and executive orders affecting census activity throughout the history of the United States.