On the surface, the decennial census seems straightforward. Count everyone in the country and you’re done. But the way we’ve done that has changed over the decades. The Pudding and Alec Barrett of TWO-N looked at the changes through the lens of questions asked:
We looked at every question on every census from 1790 to 2020. The questions—over 600 in total—tell us a lot about the country’s priorities, norms, and biases in each decade. They depict an evolving country: a modernizing economy, a diversifying population, an imperfect but expanding set of civil and human rights, and a growing list of armed conflicts in its memory. What themes and trends will you notice?