The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. The census helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.
For access to volumes not available, please contact your local Federal Depository Library.
The 1880 census was carried out under a law enacted March 3, 1879. Additional amendments to the law were made on April 20, 1880, and appropriations made on June 16, 1880-16 days after the actual enumeration had begun.
The new census law specifically handed over the supervision of the enumeration to a body of officers, known as supervisors of the census, specifically chosen for the work of the census, and appointed in each state or territory, of which they should be residents before March 1, 1880.
Each supervisor was responsible for recommending the organization of his district for enumeration, choosing enumerators for the district and supervising their work, reviewing and transmitting the returns from the enumerators to the central census office, and overseeing the compensation for enumerators in each district.
Each enumerator was required by law "to visit personally each dwelling house in his sub-division, and each family therein, and each individual living out of a family in any place of abode, and by inquiry made of the head of such family, or of the member there of deemed most credible and worthy of trust, or of such individual living out of a family, to obtain each and every item of information and all the particulars." In case no one was available at a family's usual place of abode, the enumerator was directed by the law "to obtain the required information, as nearly as may be practicable, from the family or families, or person or persons, living nearest to such place of abode."
The 1879 census act also provided for the collection of detailed data on the condition and operation of railroad corporations, incorporated express companies, and telegraph companies, and of life, fire, and marine insurance companies (using Schedule No.4 - Social Statistics). In addition, the Superintendent of Census was required to collect and publish statistics of the population, industries, and resources of Alaska, with as much detail as was practical. An enumeration was made of all untaxed Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States to collect as much information about their condition as possible.
The following five schedules were authorized by the 1880 census act: