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Census Slogans Over the Decades

Census Slogans Over the Decades

Take a look back at the slogans that have rallied the country to complete the census over the last century.

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This year, the U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging everyone, "Shape Your Future. START HERE." This slogan, or tagline, is designed to raise awareness of and encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

This message speaks to an individual's opportunity to shape their future—and the future of their community—by participating in the decennial census. After all, census results determine each state's number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they inform how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed to communities each year for clinics, fire departments, new roads, and other critical programs and services.

Join us for a look back at the other slogans that have called on the entire country to stand up and be counted.

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1940

"It's Your America! Help the Ten-Year Roll Call."


Clockwise, from top left: a promotional poster from 1940; the Three Stooges get in on the act; a 1940 census taker conducts an interview; punch cards with 1940 Census data are prepared for tabulation.

 

 

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1950

"Helping the Census Helps Uncle Sam. Make Sure You Count in America's Future."


Clockwise, from top left: a Census Taker enumerates Albert Einstein near his home in Princeton, New Jersey; Census Bureau machinists and technicians built specialized, high-volume data processing machines and computer equipment; a mother in Virginia responds to a census taker while at home with her children.

 

 

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1960

"The Census Helps Plan Your Future. Be Sure You're Counted with All Americans."


Clockwise, from top left: a newspaper advertisement promotes responding to the 1960 Census; a 1960 census taker conducts an interview; an official credential for 1960 census takers; a FOSDIC (Film Optical Sensing Device for Input to Computers) scans reels of microfilmed census questionnaires to record responses, which would then be transferred to magnetic tape that was readable by computers.

 

 

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1970

"We Can't Know Where We're Going If We Don't Know Where We Are."


The 1970 Census was the first to operate primarily by mail, with census takers visiting homes only to collect results from those who did not mail their response. Clockwise, from top left: a promotional button for the 1970 Census, displaying one of the secondary slogans; a 1970 census taker interviews a family; a sample copy of the 1970 Census form.

 

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1980

"Answer the Census. We're Counting on You."


The 1980 Census, considered one of the most accurate in the country's history, relied heavily on mailed-out questionnaires, as shown in the bottom left corner. Clockwise, from top left: the order of the 1980 slogan was sometimes reversed, as shown in this advertisement; a Census Bureau employee in Jeffersonville, Indiana, prepares a master address register to help conduct field enumeration; a brochure for Maritime and Military Vessel Enumeration.

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1990

"Answer the Census. It Counts for More Than You Think."


The 1990 Census was one of the first to customize advertising to groups historically less likely to respond, in addition to traditional outreach methods. Clockwise, from top left: a general 1990 Census advertisement; a poster for American Indian and Alaskan Native audiences; a 1990 census taker conducts an interview.

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2000

"This Is Your Future. Don't Leave It Blank."


The 2000 Census was the first to involve a paid advertising campaign and also incorporated new advertising channels. Clockwise, from top left: one of the vehicles used as part of the Census 2000 Road tour; a 2000 census taker conducts an interview; posters using artwork from the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art.

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2010

"It's In Our Hands."


Clockwise, from top left: Dora the Explorer mails back her questionnaire; print advertising for a mass audience emphasized a unified country; a poster tailored for American Indians and Alaska Native audiences; as part of a national sponsorship, NASCAR's Greg Biffle drove the 2010 Census-sponsored No. 16 Ford Fusion in three Sprint Cup Series races in March 2010.

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2020

"Shape Your Future. START HERE."


The 2020 Census is the first to invite all homes to respond online, by phone, or by mail. The images at the top right and bottom left show graphics that have been shared on social media, while the bottom right shows a fact sheet about the 2020 Census that was tailored for American Indian and Alaska Native audiences.


All images courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit census.gov/history.

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