Demographics in Census Data from 1790 and 2000

Demographics in Census Data from 1790 and 2000

Length: 1190 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Research the census data from 1790 and 2000. Submit a report comparing some of the information contained in the reports. For example, where was the demographic center of the country in each instance? How was ethnicity reported? How is census information used? What strikes you as the most interesting aspects of the reports?

The concept of collecting census data has been around for thousands of years. It was a census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem when Jesus was born. But it wasn't until the United States declared its independence and became its own country that counts were taken so consistently, or census records so well maintained.

There are many uses for census data, but the primary purpose for the creation of the US Federal Census was for tax and representation reasons1. Congress mandated a decennial population count in order to determine how to tax each state. But the data has found many other helpful uses.

Population changes and migration patterns can be mapped based on census records. I'm sure it wouldn't surprise anyone to hear that New York City has been the most populous urban US city on every census since 1790, but the rest of the list has seen some major differences. In 1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was in second place with 28,522 people, but falls to fifth place in 2000 with one and a half million people! There are cities in the 2000 census that did not exist in 1790, like Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and of course, Forney. But ironically, one of the two cities that tied for 10th place in 1790 - Southwark, Pennsylvania - doesn't exist today. What is interesting to research is how historical events affect the population densities of different areas of the United States. After railroads reached the west cost, and the Gold Rush fever brought people out, San Francisco hit the population list in just a few short years and by 1900 was in the top ten. Between 1860 and 1870, several cities in the south dropped off the top 100 cities rankings completely, I'm sure as a direct result of the Civil War.

Although not very accurately, census records have shown ethnic population changes. Not accurately because of the way blacks were counted in the decades since the first census, and the lack of counts for other racial groups at the time.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Demographics in Census Data from 1790 and 2000." 24 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Genealogy and The United States Census Essay

- Research paper Ever wonder how far back your family history goes. Do you have any idea where to start looking or what information may be needed to properly find family information. Do you have any clue as to what records would have information. The study of family history better known is Genealogy, is a common hobby of many around the world. Everyone’s genealogy is different. Some family roots can be traced farther back then others, maybe be some more times consuming. Researching your family roots can be done on many sites like,, and   [tags: family history, US Census Bureau]

Research Papers
2856 words (8.2 pages)

Director of Census 2000 Speaks Essay

- Director of Census 2000 Speaks “Let’s take a minute to think about how America lives,” Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, director of Census 2000, said to a gathering of students at Boston University today. “We have people living in igloos, houseboats, tree houses and cabins in the woods,” Prewitt said. “America is not a neat little row of urban houses.” “The census is two things: a count and assigning geography,” Prewitt explained. “The purpose of the census is to let the government know where people are.” At its peak, Census 2000 will be the third largest advertiser in the United States....   [tags: Free Essay Writer]

Free Essays
381 words (1.1 pages)

Essay about The Census Bureau

- The Census Bureau This paper will identify what I learned from the following two websites identified as the following: and The following questions are posed and will be answered in this paper. 1) What did you find that surprised you. 2) How are they different. 3) How are they the same. 4) How might these two market research sources help a company develop a marketing mix. 5) What might each of the 2 sources tell you about consumer behavior in your area....   [tags: Census Bureau Business Marketing Essays]

Research Papers
909 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about The Census of:The Tiny Dancer and the Genuine Earring

- The census of: the tiny dancer and the Genuine Earring The accomplishments of this distinguishing woman makes one want to stand-up and applaud with encore. She checks and re-checks that nothing in her life holds her back. In one’s opinion a great candidate for the Nobel Prize. In one’s opinion, one could say, it’s sometimes overcoming life’s burdens that truly exclaim oneself. There was once a life, where all she knew was abandonment, savage abuse and the society around her ignoring her. A life only the punished of horrific crimes like rape and murder should live in....   [tags: Census Analysis]

Research Papers
710 words (2 pages)

Essay on The Effect of the U.S. Census on Computing Technology

- Preface The demand for computing devices derived from the need to efficiently do calculations and process data. There have been many different factors that have impacted the history of computing but none so importantly as the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census required efficient data processing because of the large numbers and various types of data it dealt with. The U.S. Census was the catalyst for the boom of computing technology. Its effects are still felt till this day. History of the United States Census The U.S....   [tags: Technology ]

Research Papers
1705 words (4.9 pages)

Data Analysis : Data Mining Essays

- Data mining software Data mining has the potential to give businesses a competitive edge in Customer Relationship Management. Organizations use methods such as complex algorithms, artificial intelligence, and statistics to mine meaningful patterns from large sets of data. These patterns can then be utilized to do a number of things including targeting customers by predicting future behavior and learning more about present behavior. One widely accepted model is the Cross-Industry Standard Process for Data Mining (CRISP-DM) which has six phases: business understanding, data understanding, data preparation, model building, testing and evaluation, and deployment....   [tags: Data mining, Customer relationship management]

Research Papers
839 words (2.4 pages)

The Year 2000 is Coming! Essay

- The Year 2000 is Coming. Here we are close to the dawn of the millennium. An even 2000 years has passed since man has decided to start counting. That has to be significant, doesn't it. Conspiracy theorists, self- proclaimed prophets, and doomsayers can take this opportunity to spread rumors of world destruction or take ancient prophecies and interpret them to their liking. Life must be getting boring or over stimulating for these folks. There are so many different groups spreading awareness in preparation for the millennium....   [tags: Millenium New Year 2000 Essays]

Free Essays
1454 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Religions Census

- The US census bureau has not questioned Americans about religion since 1950s but some data had been collected by the federal government for about a century before that. Federal and assistant marshals who acted as censes enumerators until the civil war, collected data from religious leaders and clergy members, on the numbers of churches, their religion as well as the seating capacities and property values. According to censes analysis journal of 2010, the census bureau has been allowed to ask questions about religious practices only on a voluntary basis in some population and household survey (U.S....   [tags: Religion]

Research Papers
1385 words (4 pages)

Essay on Accuracy of Data

- The accuracy of data input is important within means of a business. Printed questionnaires are great for ideas of improvement and the quality of performance received from the company. Restaurants use printed questionnaires for complaints and suggestions from the customers. This is a wonderful way of accomplishing better service and reliable customers. It is also used by sensors to determine how many people are living in your home; this in turns allows them to determine how many people live in ones city....   [tags: Data Input ]

Free Essays
731 words (2.1 pages)

Census Bureau Essay

- Census Bureau The demographics of the census can tell a story of its own. By manipulating the data and comparing the different disbursements of race, age, and ethnicity, we can begin to see a history manifest in the living arrangements of our society today. For example, in reference to the census map titled “Black, Portland—Vancouver, OR—WA by Census Tract,” we find a high concentration of black members living in the northeast community. Cross-referencing our findings with the material discussed in class regarding Portland’s policies toward blacks historically, we can examine the matter with a scientific approach....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
537 words (1.5 pages)

Related Searches

It wasn't until the twentieth century that the census called for a breakdown of different races, to include Hispanics, Asians, Islanders, Native Americans and other nationalities. In 1790, only the heads of families were listed by name. All other family members and slaves were tracked by sex and age groups, and only by tally or check marks. Because blacks were only counted as three-fifths of a person, there was never a true count of the number of blacks on census records. In 1850 and 1860, when heads of families, including free blacks, were listed by name, the same could not be said of slaves. Instead, they were listed anonymously under their master's name on a Slave Schedule, and still not accurately2. The only information tracked was sex, disability and age group. Occasionally, more information was available. If a slave was over 100 years old, there may have been a short biography written about them2, but otherwise slaves were not a high priority for the census takers.

Native Americans were for years left off of officials census counts, but were tracked on tribe census and rolls. However, many Indians who married whites, or took on more "civilized" living as farmers or hired-hands may have claimed to be black, mulatto or even white when the census taker came to visit. My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Spicer King, may have been as much as half Choctaw Indian, but all the mentions of her or her family members in census records stated they were white, and yet I found her also listed on the Indian rolls. These kinds of discrepancies were common. The 2000 census breaks down the Native American question by individual tribes. The Bureau claims the 2000 census was "the most accurate in history, with the lowest undercount of minorities of any previous census."3

I have been searching through census records for years but never really took the time to study them thoroughly until recently. As more census data gets transcribed and indexed on the Internet, I have looked closer into what they have to offer and how to use the information they have. Prior to 1850, though, the information was slightly helpful, at best. Listing only the head of the family by name, and the rest of the family as a checkmark under an age group, it is difficult to discern between several people that have the same name. And if there is no prior knowledge of that ancestor's family members, it can be next to impossible. The 1790 Census was like this. Can you imagine how hard it is to research a John Taylor in Virginia in the late 17th century? Luckily, there were other collections and records available that answered many of my questions and helped me narrow down which John Taylor was my ancestor. Records such as marriage and death records, wills, court documents, and church membership lists are still surviving today. Thankfully, someone woke up in 1850 and started tracking each family member by name, age and birthplace (too late for my John Taylor though). Every decade since the forms have added and updated questions that has helped genealogists open doors to their past. Just don't mention the 1890 census to a genealogist unless you want to see them cry - the majority of that census was destroyed in a fire.

I think by far the most interesting thing to see in the census records are the occupations. Most of my family were farmers, but as I'm reviewing the sheets looking for relatives, I have come across some of the most intriguing jobs. One lady in England was listed as a "Bleeder with Leeches." There was a Thomas Bastard who was a Revenue officer (how appropriate). I found a man in Kentucky who admitted his occupation was "catering to wife!" And I'm not sure what a Jimple Fitter is, but there was one in England in 1901. The 1790 census didn't have occupations listed, but I'm sure it would have been interesting to take a virtual walk through New York City and see all the jobs people did back then. And because it takes 72 years to make a census available to the public for research and viewing for privacy reasons, I will not be around to see the information in the 2000 census. I can only sit back and anxiously await the release of the 1940 census in 2012!

1 The American Promise, p. 296

2 "Finding Your African American Ancestors" by David Thackery

3 U.S. Census website - American Factfinder:
Return to