U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

Decennial Census of Population and Housing Questionnaires & Instructions

Here you will learn whether an archive of past questionnaires - also known as schedules or forms – is available online. Many of our surveys now offer an online response in place of completing and mailing a printed form.

1970 Census
  • Through the Decades
  • 2020 Census
  • 2010 Census
  • 2000 Census
  • 1990 Census
  • 1980 Census
  • 1970 Census
  • 1960 Census
  • 1950 Census
  • 1940 Census
  • 1930 Census
  • 1920 Census
  • 1910 Census
  • 1900 Census
  • 1890 Census
  • 1880 Census
  • 1870 Census
  • 1860 Census
  • 1850 Census
  • 1840 Census
  • 1830 Census
  • 1820 Census
  • 1810 Census
  • 1800 Census
  • 1790 Census
1970 Census

About the 1970 Census Questionnaire

The 1970 census was the first to operate on a true mail-out mail-back system. Because enumerators were only sent out to collect information from non-responding residents, the census questionnaire was designed to be filled out by the members of each household. The first eight questions were asked of every resident. All following questions, including the entire census of housing, were asked of a sample of either five, fifteen, or twenty percent of residents. The questionnaires collected the following information, listed by question number:


Studies after the 1950 and 1960 censuses revealed that those censuses had undercounted certain segments of the population. Researchers also noted a growing distrust of government and resistance to responding to the census, despite an increasing need for accurate information in both the private and public sectors. In large measure, the increased need for data resulted from the federal government's reliance on population and other information collected by the census when distributing funds to state and local governments. In an effort to reduce the complexity of its products, the Census Bureau reduced the number of inquiries on the long-form questionnaire from 66 to 23.

The Census Bureau created an address register for densely settled areas that U.S. Post Office employees who were familiar with their routes were instructed to correct and update as needed. The register was also used to ensure that all housing units were accounted for when enumerators had completed their assignments.

The U.S. Post Office delivered census questionnaires with instruction sheets to every household several days prior to Census Day. In areas with a substantial number of Spanish-speaking households, a Spanish-language version of the instruction sheet was also enclosed. For the first time, a separate question on Hispanic origin or descent was asked, but only of a 5 percent sample of the population.

Also for the first time, residents of urban and surrounding areas were instructed to mail their forms back to the Census Bureau where enumerators reviewed them and used follow-up interviews to check on missing or incorrect responses. Rural householders received questionnaires in the mail, but were asked to hold the form for pickup by an enumerator. A letter explaining the need for the data collected and emphasizing the confidentiality of responses accompanied all census questionnaires.

Index of Questions

1970 Questionnaire - General Population

The following questions comprised the "short form," and were of all residents.

  1. Name
  2. Relationship to head of the household
  3. Sex
  4. Color or race
  5. Month and year of birth, age at last birthday
  6. Month of birth
  7. Year of birth
  8. Marital status
  9. The questionnaire provided eight spots for members of a household. If all eight were used, are there more members of this household?
  10. Was anyone left out of the list of household members because there was some question about whether or not he or she should be listed?
  11. Was anyone listed who is away from home right now?
  12. Did anyone stay here on March 31 who is not already listed?

The following questions were asked of only a sample of respondents

    1. Where was this person born?
    2. Is this person's origin or descent...
      • Mexican
      • Puerto Rican
      • Cuban
      • Central or South American
      • Other Spanish
      • None of these
  1. What country was the person's father born in?
  2. What country was the person's mother born in?
    1. For persons born in a foreign country- Is the person naturalized?
    2. WHen did the person come to the United States to stay?
  3. What language, other than English, was spoken in the person's home as a child?
    • Spanish
    • French
    • German
    • Other
    • None, only English
  4. When did this person move into his house or apartment?
    1. Did this person live in this house on April 1, 1965
    2. If no, where did he live on April 1, 1965?
  5. Since February 1, 1970, has this person attended regular school or college at any time?
    • No
    • Yes, public
    • Yes, parochial
    • Yes, other private
  6. What is the highest grade (or year) of school that this person has ever attended?
  7. Did this person finish the highest grade he attended?
  8. When was this person born?
    • Before April 1956 (please go on with questions 24 through 41)
    • April 1956 or later (population questions end here)
    1. Has this person been married more than once?
    2. When did he get married, or married for the first time?
    3. If the person had been married more than once, did the first marriage end because of the death of his spouse?
  9. If the person is a girl or a woman- how many babies has she ever had, not counting stillbirths?
    1. If the person is a man- has he ever served in the Army, Navy, or other Armed Forces of the United States?
    2. Was it during the...
      • Vietnam Conflict
      • Korean War
      • World War II
      • World War I
      • Any other time
    1. Has this person ever completed a vocational training program?
    2. If yes, what was the person's main field of vocational training?
      • Business or other office work
      • Nursing or other health fields
      • Trades and crafts (mechanic, electrician, beautician, etc.)
      • Engineering or science technician; draftsman
      • Agriculture or home economics
      • Other
    1. Does this person have a health or physical condition which limits the kind or amount of work he can do at a job? If the person is 65 years or older, skip to question 29.
    2. Does the person's health or physical condition keep him from holding any job at all?
    3. If "Yes" to a or b- how long has the person been limited in his ability to work?
    1. Did this person work at any time last week? (If no, the person was to skip to question 30)
    2. If yes, how many hours did the person work last week?
    3. Where did the person work last week?
      1. Address
      2. Name of city, town, village, etc.
      3. Inside of the limits of this city, town, or village?
      4. County
      5. State
      6. Zip code
    4. How did the person get to work last week?
      • Driver, private auto
      • Passenger, private auto
      • Bus or streetcar
      • Subway or elevated
      • Railroad
      • Taxicab
      • Walked only
      • Worked at home
      • Other means

After completing this question, the person was to skip to question 33

  1. Does this person have a job or business from which he was temporarily absent or on layoff last week?
    1. Has the person been looking for work during the past four weeks?
    2. If yes, was there any reason the person could not take a job last week?
      • Yes, already had a job
      • Yes, because of this person's temporary illness
      • Yes, for other reasons (in school, etc.)
      • No, could have taken a job
  2. When did the person last work at all, even for a few days?
    1. For whom did the the person work?
    2. What kind of business or industry was this?
    3. Was this work mainly...
      • Manufacturing
      • Wholesale trade
      • Retail trade
      • Other
    1. What kind of work was the person doing?
    2. What were the person's most important activities and duties?
    3. What was the person's job title?
  3. Was this person an...
    • Employee of a private company
    • Federal government employee
    • State government employee
    • Local government employee
    • Self-employed in an incorporated business
    • Self-employed in an unincorporated business
    • Working without pay in a family business or farm
  4. In April 1965, what state did this person live in?
  5. In April 1965, was this person...
    • Working at a job or business
    • In the Armed Forces
    • Attending college
  6. If working at a job or business in April 1965, describe this person's chief activity or business at that time
    1. What kind of business or industry was this?
    2. What kind of work was the person doing?
    3. Was the person an employee of a private company or government agency or self-employed or an unpaid family worker?
    1. Last year, did the person work at all, even for a few days?
    2. If yes, how many weeks did the person work in 1969?
  7. Earnings in 1969
    1. How much did this person earn in 1969 in wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs?
    2. How much did this person earn in 1969 from his own non-farm business, professional practice, or partnership?
    3. How much did he earn in 1969 from his own farm?
  8. Income other than earnings in 1969
    1. How much did this person receive in 1969 from Social Security or Railroad Retirement?
    2. How much did this person receive in 1969 from public assistance or welfare payments?
    3. How much did this person receive in 1969 from all other sources?

Page Last Revised - November 23, 2021
Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes Thumbs Down Image No
255 characters maximum 255 characters maximum reached
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?


Back to Header