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Legislation

Legislation 1830 - 1899

  • Census Act of 1830 (March 23, 1830) Download PDF [731KB PDF]
    • Authorizing legislation for the 1830 census. Expanded age categories, which were now to start at infancy and continue upward at ten-year intervals. Additionally, the date of enumeration was shifted from the late summer to springtime. There was to be no manufacturing census in 1830.
  • Census Act of 1839 (March 3, 1839) Download PDF [1.47MB PDF]
    • Authorizing legislation for the 1840 census. Did not, as previous laws had, list the specific questions to be asked. Instead, the law stipulated only broad categories to be addressed. This law was amended several times during the next two years, mostly to give the marshals and their assistants extra time to complete the population count.
  • Census Act of 1850 (May 23, 1850) Download PDF [909KB PDF]
    • Authorizing legislation for the 1850 and subsequent censuses. Laid out six specific questionnaires that covered the populations of free and slave inhabitants, agriculture, products of industry, social statistics, and vitality. The department responsible for the census was shifted from State to Interior.
  • An Act of May 6, 1870 Download PDF [1.47MB PDF]
    • Although the 1870 census was conducted under the authorization of the Census Act of 1850, this new law canceled the slave schedule, made obsolete after the 13th Amendment emancipated all slaves.
  • Census Act of 1879 (March 3, 1879) Download PDF [925KB PDF]
    • Authorizing legislation for the 1880 census and subsequent censuses.
  • Census Act 1899 (March 3, 1899) Download PDF [2.56MB PDF]**
    • Authorizing legislation for the 1900 and subsequent censuses. Originally restricted to inquiries "relating to population, to mortality, to products of agriculture and of manufacturing and mechanical establishments." Social and vitality statistics such as a population count of the deaf, blind, and dumb were only to be completed after these five required censuses. This rule was reversed by a 1900 amendment to the act, allowing those statistics to be collected along with the rest.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: September 30, 2014