National Census Resources
Since 1790, the Census has been used to count every person living in the United States of America and its territories, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. This population count is used to determine representation in the Congress and how federal tax dollars are allocated. When you respond to the census, you help your community gets its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.
Why the Census is Important
- Representation: The decennial count of all U.S. residents is required by the U.S. Constitution to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College (known as reapportionment). This data is also the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices (known as redistricting).
- Funding: The Census is key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities (such as grants to states under the Library Services and Technology Act).
- Information: Data resulting from the Census is widely used by researchers, governments, businesses, and other organizations (to, for example, plan for library services).
What questions will be on the Census?
The Census questions are very generic demographic questions about you and the other people who live with you. Questions include name, age, origin of birth, race, gender, the relationship of the people living in the same place (spouse, son/daughter, renter, etc.), and whether the home is owned or rented.
See Sample Questionnaire
How do I respond to the 2020 Census?
You can respond to the 2020 Census in one of three ways:
- On the phone: For the first time, 1-800 numbers will be available to give the response over the phone.
- In writing: A paper form will be mailed to each household.
- Online: For the first time in history, there will be the option to fill out the Census online.
March 2020: An invitation to respond to the Census online will be sent to every residence sometime between 12-20 March 2020.
A reminder letter and a reminder postcard will both be sent out at the end of March to the beginning of April.
If you still haven’t responded, a reminder letter AND a paper questionnaire will be sent between April 8-16.
End of April 2020: A final reminder is sent between April 20-27 before a Census employee comes out to visit in person.
Where can I find past Census data?
Find U.S. Census data from 1790-1940 in our genealogy databases. Use your library card to log into HeritageQuest from home, When at the library, use Ancestry to search the Census data.