The U.S. Census for the Glendale, Montana Area
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1870 U.S. Census / Madison County

1880 U.S. Census

1900 U. S. Census

1910 U. S. Census

History of the U.S. Census

Censuses had been taken prior to the Constitution's ratification; in the early 1600s, a census was taken in Virginia, and people were counted in nearly all of the British colonies that became the United States.

Through the years, the country's needs and interests became more complex. This meant that statistics were needed to help people understand what was happening and have a basis for planning. The content of the decennial census changed accordingly. In 1810 the first inquiry on manufactures, quantity and value of products occurred; in 1840 inquiries on fisheries were added; and in 1850, the census included inquiries on social issues, such as taxation, churches, pauperism, and crime. The censuses also spread geographically, to new states and territories added to the Union, as well as to other areas under U.S. sovereignty or jurisdiction. There were so many more inquiries of all kinds in the census of 1880 that almost a full decade was needed to publish all the results. In response to this, the census was mechanised in 1890, with tabulating machines made by Herman Hollerith. This reduced the processing time to two and a half years[9].

For the first six censuses (1790-1840) enumerators recorded only the names of the heads of household and a general demographic accounting of the remaining members of the household. Beginning in 1850, all members of the household were named on the census. The first slave schedules were also completed in 1850, with the second (and last) in 1860. Censuses of the late 19th century also included agricultural and industrial schedules to gauge the productivity of the nation's economy. Mortality schedules (taken between 1850 and 1880) captured a snapshot of life spans and causes of death throughout the country.

The first nine censuses (1790-1870) were not managed by the Executive Branch, but by the Judicial Branch. The United States federal court districts assigned U.S. marshals, who hired assistant marshals to conduct the actual enumeration.


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