The National Archives at Fort Worth

The National Archives at Fort Worth

Student Activities

The Federal Census

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau will be collecting information from people across the country. The Census is like attendance for the United States similar to when your teacher takes attendance in your classroom.

Q: Why does the United States take the Census?

A: Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution requires the government to take a count of all the people in the country every 10 years.

Census Fast Fact: The first federal census was taken in 1790. The United States had only 13 states and a population of 3,909,214 people about the size of the population of the city of Los Angeles, California!

Q: Why is the Census important?

A: The United States is a representative democracy. In order for everyone to be represented they must be counted in the census. The information collected in the census determines the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives.

The census information also helps national, state, and local governments determine how money should be spent on projects and programs including how many schools or hospitals to build and where to build them.

Census Fast Fact: The Census Bureau holds individual information private for 72 years before it is made public. The 1940 census will be available in 2010.

The below activities are designed to help students learn about the types of information the U.S. Census Bureau collects. As time has passed, some of the questions asked remain the same while others have changed. One question asked on the 1930 census in the Home Data section was if you owned a radio set. Today, this question is no longer asked. What device do you think the census asks about now? Who knows what questions will be asked in the future!

Who Am I? Census Activity


Print the activity worksheet and the individual census records. Write down the corresponding number on the census record, for example, 1A, 2A, 3A, etc. The census record number relates to the question on the activity sheet.

Most census records are difficult to read. The blank census forms outline the questions asked. Match the date of the census record with the date of the blank census form. For example, question 2A uses the 1930 census. Make sure you use the blank 1930 census form. You might want to use a magnifying glass to help you read the census records!

Use the clues on the activity worksheet to find famous individuals on the census records. The clues will lead you to answer the question: Who Am I? Use the worksheet key to check your answers.

Have fun!

Census Activity # 1


Census Activity # 2

*The Blank Census Forms are provided by

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