The Census of Population and Housing is required by the Constitution and has been taken every 10 years since 1790. Early on it counted people by sex and race, and that's about it. Over the years it has evolved and continues to evolve to count a great variety of demographic, economic, and social characteristics of the United States population. In 2010 the American Community Survey replaced the Census "long form" to more consistently and accurately count many of the social and demographic characteristics.
Alderman Library owns print Census reports back to 1790. Most of the census reports are shelved in the 3rd floor New Stacks under C 3.YEAR (C 3.1810:, C 3.1820, etc.). Consult with or email library staff for assistance. The Data Librarian can assist with manipulating more recent census data using tools like the Geolytics CDs and DataFerret.
The resources below provide access to many Census services and products. Other pages of this guide provide more fine-tuned access to specific years, products, or services. For more genealogical information from the census (names of people) see our Census - Genealogy and our more general Genealogy guides.