Skip to Main Content

HIST3140: History of New Jersey: Statistical Sources

Resources for research in the history of New Jersey.

What is the Decennial Census?

"A census is a complete count of a population, generally a nation, conducted by government, as of a fixed date."

- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd Edition), 2015, Page 302

The United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 2) mandates a decennial census for the purpose of Congressional apportionment. The first Census was conducted in 1790 and counted only heads of household. Over time the Census has expanded to count every person in the U.S. including information on their age, race, and ethnicity as well as a variety of social and economic characteristics.  While there are undoubtedly portions of the population that go uncounted, it is the closest we have to complete demographic and economic data on the U.S. population.

In addition to the data collected by the Decennial Census, the American Community Survey (since 2005) collects additional data on such topics as ancestry, citizenship, educational attainment, income, language proficiency, migration, disability, employment, and housing characteristics. This data is also available through the main Census portal ( and in Census publications.

Starting Points for Census Statistics

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Richard Kearney
chat loading...
Electronic Resources Librarian
Reference and Information Services Office, Room 107g
David and Lorraine Cheng Library
William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road
Wayne, NJ 07470