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230 Years and Counting

230 Years and Counting

How does the 2020 Census compare to the 1790 count?

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Milestone

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1790 Census

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This was the first United States census.

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2020 Census

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This is the first census with the option for households in the U.S. to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

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Area Counted

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1790 Census

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The original 13 states; the districts of Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont; and the Southwest Territory (Tennessee).

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2020 Census

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The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

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Conducting the Count

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1790 Census

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By horseback and on foot, approximately 650 U.S. marshals and assistants recorded answers on forms made of parchment and animal skins.

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2020 Census

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Households can now respond online, by phone, or by mail. Hundreds of thousands of temporary census takers will use smartphones to follow up with households that don't respond.

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Leading the Effort

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1790 Census

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Thomas Jefferson,
Secretary of State.

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2020 Census

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Steven Dillingham,
Census Bureau Director.

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Census Day

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1790 Census

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August 2, 1790.

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2020 Census

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April 1, 2020.

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Representatives in Congress

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1790 Census

65
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This number would increase to 105 based on the results of the 1790 Census.

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2020 Census

435
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The total number of representatives was set by the Apportionment Act of 1929; the current Congress includes record numbers of women and minority representatives.

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Tunes of the Times

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1790 Census

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The country's first singing contest was held between choirs from Dorchester and Stoughton, Massachusetts.

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2020 Census

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Alicia Keys hosted the 62nd annual Grammy Awards in January.

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Did You Know?

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1790 Census

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109,826. That was the combined population of the country's five largest cities: New York City (33,131 people); Philadelphia (28,522); Boston (18,320); Charleston, South Carolina (16,359); and Baltimore (13,503).

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2020 Census

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107,601. That is the attendance capacity at the largest college football stadium in the United States—Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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U.S. Population

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1790 Census

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3,929,214.

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2020 Census

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Coming soon! 


Hall, R. (2014, November 8). The Stoughton Musical Society Wins America's First-Ever Singing Contest in 1790. Retrieved from http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/old-stoughton-musical-society-wins-americas-first-ever-singing-contest/.

Michigan Stadium. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://mgoblue.com/sports/2017/6/16/facilities-michigan-stadium-html.aspx.

Team USA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.teamusa.org/.

For more information about the history of the U.S. Census, visit census.gov/history.