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Census Data: Introduction

Guide to statistical information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Missouri Census Data Center

The Missouri Census Data Center provides menu-driven access to 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 Census Demographic Profiles for all states, counties, tracts, cities, ZIP codes and other geographic entities.

Data Links by Area allows you to select a state, county or town and see which census data products contain information for that particular place. Includes data from the American Community Survey and the 2000 and 2010 decennial census.

MCDC holdings consist of public machine readable data archive and numerous reports and dynamic web applications. A state-wide network of lead, coordinating and affiliate agencies provides users with assistance in accessing the MCDC holdings and answering questions regarding their use and interpretation.

Reference Service

Reference service is available
Mon - Fri 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Government Documents Department
106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri

Marie Concannon (573) 882-0748

How is the Data Used

The Census Data is used for a number of purposes:

  • to determine the distribution of Congressional seats to states--
    • mandated by the U.S. Constitution
    • used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
    • used to define legislature districts, school district assignment areas and other important functional areas of government
  • to make decisions about what community services to provide and assist in planning decisions such as:
    • where to rovide services for the elderly
    • where to build new roads and schools
    • or where to locate job training centers
  • to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year for:
    • neighborhood improvements
    • public health
    • education
    • transportation
    • and much more

What and When

Population & Housing Census - every 10 years
Economic Census - every 5 years
Census of Governments - every 5 years
American Community Survey - on-going

Other surveys are taken regularly on business, economics, manufacturing, housing and other topics.

The Census Bureau also collects and disseminates data from other agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Education Statistics,and  the Social Security Administration.

Origins of the Census

The origins of the census trace back to the Constitution of the United States. Article 1, Section 2; the main purpose was for apportionment of the House of Representatives and determination of Federal taxes.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

The Census Act in 1790  provided instructions for the marshalls entrusted with the census duties and stated the type of information to be collected. There were seventeen states in 1790, and the census was to be started the first Monday in August and take nine calendar months to complete. Inhabitants were to provide full information or be subject to a $20 fine. The census was to be used for representation/allocation of resources.

The Census Bureau has more information on the history of the census.

The Story of the Census, 1790-1915

Contact information

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Marie Concannon
Welcomes questions from everyone
106-B Ellis Library
University of Missouri
(573) 882-0748