U.S. Census for the Glendale, Montana Area
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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.
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. Source:
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