What is the Census

Please note: This guide covers only those statistical volumes released after census data has been compiled. This guide does not cover those older documents that list census participants by name, which are commonly used for tracking family histories. For that information, consider setting up a free account with FamilySearch. Also, your local public library, such as Amarillo Public Library, may have free on-site access to resources such as Ancestry.com or Heritage Quest.

Article 1, Section 2, of the United States Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years for the purpose of apportioning the United States House of Representatives. The first census was taken in 1790, and since that time the census of population has been taken each year ending in zero. The United States was the first country to institute a periodic census. The decennial census results are used to determine the number of congressional seats apportioned to each state.

Texas currently has 36 members in the United States House of Representatives as a result of the apportionment based on the 2010 census figures. State and local governments also began to rely on the census to determine their own legislative representation and districting. Many questions on the decennial census are mandated by federal law.

As the needs of the nation changed, census questions were created to get statistics for different purposes. For example, the first inquiry on manufactures was made in 1810. Questions on agriculture, mining, and fisheries were added in 1840; and in 1850 the census included inquiries on social issues such as taxation, churches, pauperism, and crime. For more census background and history, please see History and Organization PDF document from the U.S. Census.

For the state of Texas, Article III, Section 28, of the Texas Constitution requires the Texas Legislature to redistrict both houses (the Texas House of Representatives and Texas State Senate) at its first regular session after publication of the federal decennial census. The Legislature meets in odd-numbered years. If the Legislature fails to adopt a redistricting plan by the end of the legislative session, a Legislative Redistricting Board (the "LRB") consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General, and Commissioner of the General Land Office shall convene within 90 days of adjournment and adopt a plan within 60 days of convening. For more information on this process, please visit Texas Redistricting Legal Requirements. A district viewer, data, and history are also available from Texas Redistricting.

Finding Census Information

Census Bureau Home Page
This is the U.S. Census Bureau's home page and the gateway to all federal census information. Has information on People and Households; Business and Industry; Geography; Data Tools and Apps; and Research.
American FactFinder
AFF was an online source for population, housing, economic, and geographic data. After almost 20 years as the primary data dissemination tool of the U.S. Census Bureau, it retired on March 31,2020. It was replaced by data.census.gov. The Census Bureau offers a chart listing what is currently available on data.census.gov, and the most recent Full Release Notes Document on the Developmental Update may also be helpful. Data tools, visualizations, courses, and more remain available at census.gov/data.html.
Census of Agriculture
Published every 5 years. View editions such as the 2017, 2012, and 2007 Census of Agriculture online. All historic editions are also archived online.
The new platform to access data and digital content from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data user will have access to the Census Bureau data and content in a single place. Does not currently contain all the content that was available in American FactFinder. Can access the most recent Full Release Notes Document on the Developmental Update page.
Economic Census
Published every 5 years. View recent and historical editions online.

What WTAMU Has

WTAMU currently collects general census publications and also any census information available for the five-state area: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. More recent information may be online-only.

WTAMU's collection begins with the 8th Census from 1860 and is not complete. Search the Cornette Library's Online Catalog for census resources, such as the "2010 Census," or use the print Monthly Catalog for older census items.

Please ask for help locating Census items at the Government Documents Service Desk.

Location of Some Census Resources: Government Documents

Miscellaneous U.S. Census Publications - 20th to 21st Century
For example, Special Reports from 1900 to 1909 (C 3.5) and Vital Statistics of the United States from 1937 to 1944 (C 3.139:)
C 3.
U.S. Documents Shelves
8th Decennial Census - 12th Decennial Census (1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900)
I 9.5:
U.S. Documents Shelves
13th Decennial Census (1910)
C 3.16:
U.S. Documents Shelves
14th Decennial Census (1920)
C 3.28:
U.S. Documents Shelves
15th Decennial Census (1930)
C 3.37:
U.S. Documents Shelves
16th Decennial Census (1940)
C 3.940:
U.S. Documents Shelves
17th Decennial Census - Population, Housing, Agriculture (1950)
C 3.950:
U.S. Documents Shelves
Census of Population (Decennial Census for 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000)
C 3.223/
U.S. Documents Shelves
2010 Census of Population and Housing (23rd Decennial Census)
Limited number of paper titles printed, so library does not own a print set. However, 2010 data is available online. The online 2010 Census of Population and Housing has links to publications such as Population and Housing Unit Counts for the United States PDF document and individual states such as Texas PDF document. (This library has the Unit Counts in print for the U.S. and five-state area.) 2010 Census Briefs and 2010 Special Reports are also available online.
C 3.223/5:2010
U.S. Documents Shelves
Census of Manufactures (1914 to 1977)
C 3.24/
U.S. Documents Shelves
Census of Agriculture - State and County Data
C 3.31/ (1925 to 1992)
A 92.53/ (1997 to 2007)
U.S. Documents Shelves
Vital Statistics of the United States
C 3.139: (1937 to 1944)
FS 2.112: (1945 to 1967)
HE 20.6210: (1970 to 1993)
U.S. Documents Shelves
Amarillo - Miscellaneous Decennial
Block Statistics for Amarillo (1950, 1960, 1970, 1980), Census Tracts for Amarillo - Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (1970, 1980), Census Tracts and Block Numbering Areas, Amarillo MSA (1990, 1990 maps), and Metropolitan Housing Characteristics for Amarillo - Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (1970, 1980)
C 3.
Government Documents - Workroom
Texas - Population
Some volumes of U.S. Census decennial information for states - 13th Census, 15th Census, 16th Census (1910, 1930, 1940).
C 3.16:3
C 3.37/5:
C 3.940-5:
Government Documents - Workroom
6th Decennial Census...by Counties and Principal Towns... (1840)
I 7.2:C 73/1
Government Documents - Workroom
7th Decennial Census...Cities, Towns, and Counties... (1850)
I 8.2:C 73/1
Government Documents - Workroom
Miscellaneous Decennial Census Social Statistics
10th Census and 11th Census Social Statistics (1880, 1890), 11th Census Report on Indians Taxed and Indians Not Taxed (1890), and 11th Census Report on Crime, Pauperism, and Benevolence (1890)
I 11.5:
I 12.5:
Government Documents - Workroom


U.S. Census and Demographic Information
Online guide from the University of Michigan.
Includes information on Current Census Data, Historical Census Data, Understanding Census Geography, and How to Make Maps Using Census Data.
Understanding the Census
HA 201 1990ar Govt. Docs - Documents/Reference
A guide for data users that contains some history, but does not cover the changes of the 2000 census. Still a useful source.
Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census
HA 37 .U55 E53 2000 Govt. Docs - Documents/Reference
Includes U.S. population and area, 1790-2000; Center of population, 1790-1990; Congressional apportionment, 1789-1990; Growth of the Decennial Census, 1790-1990; Cost of taking the Census, 1790-2000; and Standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity.
Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000
C 3.2:M 46/2 Govt. Docs - U.S. Docs Shelves
Original version PDF document
Revised version PDF document
Facsimiles of decennial census questionnaires with instructions for enumerators for older censuses (prior to mass mailings). Includes brief histories of the individual censuses.
200 Years of U.S. Census Taking
C 3.2:T 93 Gov. Docs - Documents/Reference
This publication contains a history of the census, a schedule of mortality tables, and examples of census forms.
Key to the Publications of the United States Census, 1790-1887
Z 7165.U5 L85 1976 Ref. Dept. - Reference Shelves
Provides a bibliography of decennial census volumes through the 1880 census. Also includes an index of general subject areas with detailed lists of tables from the census volumes.
Census 2000 Basics
C 3.2:B 29/2000 Govt. Docs. - U.S. Docs Shelves
Census 2000 Basics-Online edition PDF document
Provides a general introduction to Census 2000 including a listing of 100% and sample characteristics, a glossary of geographic areas and a list of data products.
Mapping Census 2000: The Geography of U.S. Diversity
C 3.2:M 32 Govt. Docs. - U.S. Docs Shelves
Mapping Census 2000-Online edition PDF document
This publication provides maps of various demographic characteristics from Census 2000.

Online Information

General Census Information

Census Bureau Home Page
This is the U.S. Census Bureau's home page and the gateway to all federal census information.
U.S. Census Bureau: Index A to Z
Provides an easy way to explore hundreds of topics to find data.
Census Catalog and Guide
Describes data products issued by the Census Bureau and also describes programs and services. In addition, it provides abstracts of the publications, maps, CD-ROMs, computer tapes, diskettes, and items online. The abstracts include the data time, the geographic scope, and the subject content.

2010 Census Information

U.S. Census By Decade: 2010
Includes resources such as the 2010 Decennial Census Official Publications, which includes 2010 Census Briefs, and 2010 Decennial Census Tables.
Census Publications
Has recent releases. Quick Links page has links to older publications.
Explore the 2010 Census Form
With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census form was one of the shortest forms in history, collecting only basic information: age, sex, race, ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic origin), household relationship, and housing tenure (own or rent). The census long form was replaced by the American Community Survey.
The 2010 Census: Background and Issues PDF document
A CRS (Congressional Research Service) Report for Congress.

Census 2000 Information

Census 2000 Gateway
The U.S. Census Bureau's gateway to its 2000 decennial census web resources. Includes the American Factfinder database of 2000 census data and includes links to data from all four Summary Files. Highlights of the gateway include State & County QuickFacts; a database for retrieving Census 2000 data by entering a street address; Census 2000 Briefs and Special Reports which provide informative statistics on particular subjects and demographic groups; and Census 2000 volumes in PDF format, which is currently comprised of the Geographic Area Series for the Census of Population and Housing (PHC).
2000 Census of Population and Housing
Available via the general list of Census of Population and Housing.

1990 Census

U.S. Census by Decade: 1990
Includes resources such as 1990 Decennial Census Official Publications and 1990 Decennial Census Data Tables.
Census of Population and Housing: 1990
Click on link to 1990 to view an online version of information in the 1990 census volumes in PDF format. Useful to view the resources in the context of the three decennial censuses (Census of Population, Census of Housing, and Census of Population and Housing), including the Geographic Area Series for the fifty states and U.S. territories. Can find census statistics at the national, state, county, and city levels. Unfortunately, as a work in progress, some of the state information is lacking for about half of the states in the United States. Can also go to U.S. Census: Publications and filter results by "1990 Census." Then "Sort by Title: A-Z." Points to same pages that may still be lacking about half of the state-level information.

Historical Census Information

National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) (NHGIS)
Provides easy access to summary tables and time series of population, housing, agriculture, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for years from 1790 through the present and for all levels of U.S. census geography, including states, counties, tracts, and blocks. More information about NHGIS.
Decennial Census Population and Housing Counts: By Decade
Begins with 1790. Follows the evolution of the decennial census by detailing the events surrounding each of them. Click on a decade to view publications available, such as 1790 Census: Heads of Families.

Texas Information

Texas State Data Center
The Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer, functions as a focal point for the distribution of Census information for Texas. The Center also disseminates population estimates and projections for Texas, as well as other information from the federal government, state government, and other sources. The TSDC is part of the State Data Center System, a national network of 52 centers (all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) started in 1978.


Minnesota Population Center
IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata) Series. The IPUMS-USA has harmonized data from the decennial census and American Community Surveyfrom 1850 to the present. From the University of Minnesota.
Census and Demographic Data Resources
List of numerous helpful websites from Emory University.
How to Copy and Paste Census Data
A 21-minute video created by Dr. Dave Rausch, Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science at West Texas A & M University. While the data may be challenging to locate, Dr. Rausch demonstrates how easy it is copy and paste it.
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