April first is the official day for the 2010 census count – the forms request that you count all the people living in your household today (no foolin’)!
Two librarians worked together last night to answer a census-related question: the questioner was interested in tracking the growth of the Hispanic or Latino population in Athens – Clarke County over the 20th and 21st centuries.
The main census web site has a wealth of information, and the American Factfinder is a quick and easy to use interface for finding current information about any community (includes 200 census and American Community Survey data). There is a working paper that gives information about the history of racial and ethnic classifications used in the census, covering 1790-1990. It turns out “Hispanic” was not used as a category until the 1970 census, but can be approximated using “persons with a Spanish mother tongue” or “of Mexican origin” in some earlier years.
Other great census web sites are:
- The historical census browser at the University of Virginia
- IPUMS-USA (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series)
Because this question required data from historical census years not available online in county-level detail, and required some care in trying to disentangle how Hispanic or Latino origin was defined in any given census year, we’ll need to do some old fashioned book research to fully answer the question.