History of Race/Ethnicity and the Census

The stories of ordinary Americans are captured in census data, and are essential for painting the mosaic of what we look like.  One of the most important forms of individual identity, race/ethnicity, is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau under definitions outlined by the Office of Managment and Budget (OMB).  Three important points regarding race/ethnicity and the census:


1.  A product of history, public policy, and mobility and migration patterns, there are distinct geographic patterns of race/ethnicity across the U.S.  For an interesting side-by-side comparison of changes in race/ethnicity from 2000 to 2010 for the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, check out this link.


2.  The 2000 census was the first census where individuals could select more than one race.  For a comprehensive account of the individual actors and institutions engaged in this change, check out Portland State University Professor Dr. Kim Williams' book, Mark One or More:  Civil Rights in Multiracial America.


3.  To see how race/ethnicity categories have changed in the census over time, from 1790 to 2010, visit:

Data StoriesJason Jurjevich