On August 2, 1790, the first United States Census began, fulfilling the Constitution’s requirement to count the population
August 2, 2024
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 2 of August, repeating indefinitely
On August 2, 1790, the first United States Census began, fulfilling the Constitution’s requirement to count the population. The census was (and still is) important in determining political representation.
Did you know? Believe it or not, the first census asked only 6 questions, recording only the name of the head of household.
In every census from 1790-2020, New York City has consistently been the largest city. Talk about a Big Apple!
Due to their confidential nature, census records aren’t available to the public for 72 years. This wasn’t always the case – as census questions became progressively extensive (and personal), privacy concerns resulted in laws to keep the information confidential.
Why 72 years? It’s commonly believed that the number was chosen since it was roughly the average lifespan at the time.
Just last year, the 1950 census records were made publicly available. Family history buffs eagerly await these decennial occasions to gain insight into the lives of previous generations. If they were in the U.S. prior to 1950, consider looking up your own family!
Taking the Census, Francis William Edmonds, 1854
-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer