June 10, 2015

What Census Calls Us: A Historical Timeline

 1960 onward: People could choose their own race.
 2000 onward: Americans could be recorded in more than one race category on the census form.
American census categories for race & ethnicity in  
1790
1800
1810
1820
1830
1840
1850
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
white
black
other
amer. indian/alaska
asian
hawaii/pac. islander
hispanic
1790
Americans were recorded in these race/ethnicity categories on the census form.
1790
Free white males, Free white females
All other free persons
Slaves
2010
latest census

2010
White
Black, African American or Negro
Some other race
American Indian or Alaska Native
Chinese
Japanese
Filipino
Korean
Asian Indian
Vietnamese
Other Asian
Native Hawaiian
Samoan
Guamanian or Chamorro
Other Pacific Islanders
Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano [+]
Puerto Rican
Cuban
Another Hispanic, Latino, Spanish origin
Click image to enlarge.

The nation's first census was a count of the U.S. population as of Aug. 2, 1790. U.S. marshals and their assistants were supposed to visit each U.S. household and record the name of the head of household and the number of free white males, other free persons and slaves in each household. A total of 3.9 million people were counted in the first census.
“What Census Calls Us”
Download PDF →
“Multiracial Voices”
Explore visual essay →
“Multiracial in America”
Read full report →
*The U.S. Census Bureau does not consider Hispanic/Latino identity to be a race. Ethnicity is asked as a separate question. See Chapter 7 of "Multiracial in America" report for more details.
 1960 onward: People could choose their own race.

 2000 onward: Americans could be recorded in more than one race category on the census form.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau