U.S. Census Bureau

Original Caption: “This Is a Card Puncher, an Integral Part of the Tabulation System Used by the United States Census Bureau to Compile the Thousands of Facts Gathered by the Bureau. Holes Are Punched in the Card According to a Prearranged Code Transferring the Facts From the Census Questionaire Into Statistics.” [Woman Operating the Card Puncher]

U.S. Census Bureau

The United States Census Bureau is an essential resource for U.S. population data. The census reports created every 10 years since 1790 are just the beginning.

The Census Bureau website includes a wealth of data that can be used to build skills and understandings across social studies disciplines. While the most obvious connections may be with geography, the census has included sociological and economic data from the start.

Images from each census up until the middle of the twentieth century are available for free. Additional reports increase as the census gets closer to the present. These demographic reports vary in how accessible they are for student use.

The U.S. Census Bureau focuses major portions of their education efforts towards their “Teacher’s Guide to Data Access Tools for Students.” The sections within this page offer support for helping students to work with the different types of data available from the U.S. Census. While this portion of their website focuses more on the most current census data, the processes that they recommend can often apply to accessing and analyzing historical data.

The Census Bureau’s data access tools are more than just graphic organizers. They offer digital tools that students can use to access and reason with data sources. With internet access and appropriate devices, students can manipulate and interact with many of the different aspects of the Census Bureau’s data. Most of these tools skew towards use with older students.

However, the Census also offers maps and data that can be useful in late elementary school. The 10-year census itself consists of questions that elementary students can follow and understand.  Just looking at the way that these questions have changed over time can be an interesting investigation on its own.