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History

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Decennial Census Records


Decennial census records are confidential for 72 years to protect respondents' privacy.

Records from the 1950 to 2010 Censuses can only be obtained by the person named in the record or their heir after submitting form BC-600 or BC-600sp (Spanish).

Individual census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Publications related to the census data collected from 1790 to 2010 are available at https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html.

Visit the National Archives Web site to access 1940 Census records
http://1940census.archives.gov.

Online subscription services are available to access the 1790–1940 census records and many public libraries provide access to these services free-of-charge.
Contact your local library to inquire if it has subscribed to one of these services.



The United States has collected data about its population since 1790 and continues to collect data every 10 years. Currently, the National Archives has the 1790 to 1940 census records available to the public.

In addition to the censuses conducted by the federal government, many state censuses have been conducted. Some of these date to the colonial period. Although the National Archives may have some of these records, contact your state or local archives to inquire about their state census holdings.

1940 interview in garden
Taking a break from gardening for the 1940 census interview.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: October 21, 2019