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Government Information

Sojourner Truth Library's guide to finding government information.

Decennial Census

The official U.S. Census is described in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States. It calls for an actual enumeration of the people every ten years, to be used for the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives among the states.

logo for the U.S. Census

Besides providing the basis for congressional redistricting, Census data are used in many other ways. Since 1975, the Census Bureau has had the responsibility to produce small-area population data needed to redraw state legislative and congressional districts. Other important uses of Census data include the distribution of funds for government programs such as Medicaid; planning the right locations for schools, roads, and other public facilities; helping real estate agents and potential residents learn about a neighborhood; and identifying trends over time that can help predict future needs. Most Census data are available for many levels of geography, including states, counties, cities and towns, ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, census tracts, blocks, and much more.

American Community Survey

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's decennial census program. The ACS collects information such as age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, and other important data. As with the 2010 decennial census, information about individuals remains confidential.

The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years. Collecting data every year provides more up-to-date information throughout the decade about the U.S. population at the local community level. About 3.5 million housing unit addresses are selected annually, across every county in the nation.

Survey Coverage

Single-Year Estimates
The ACS produces 1-year estimates annually for geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more. This includes the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately 800 counties, and 500 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.

Multiyear Estimates
The ACS produces 3-year estimates annually for geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more, including the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately 1,800 counties, and 900 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.

In 2010, the Census Bureau released the first 5-year estimates for small areas. These 5-year estimates are based on ACS data collected from 2005 through 2009.

Access the Explore Census Data page

  • American Community Survey 
  • Puerto Rico Community Survey
  • Population Estimates Program
  • American Housing Survey
  • Economic Census
  • Annual Economic Surveys 
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation
  • Census of Governments
  • Annual Surveys of Governments


Electronic Resources

Census of Population and Housing 1790 - 2010

  • PDFs of census publications that can be browsed but not searched

STL Print Resources

1950 and 1960 Bound Volumes Decennial Census

Stacks HA201

1970, 1980 and 1990 Decennial Census Publications

Government Documents Compact Shelving SuDocs C3

STL Microfilm Resources

Decennial Census Reports from 1790 - 1960 (237 reels) are available in the Government Documents Microfilm drawer #452 in the Media Room on the Main Floor of the Library.  Please check in with a librarian at the Information Desk if you would like assistance using microfilm.

You may also refer to the book "Bibliography and Reel Index: A Guide to the Microfilm Edition of United States Decennial Census Publications 1790-1970"

Stacks HA195.R47 1975

Helpful Reference Resources