The Census and Race/Ethnicity * Read through these instructions first. Then proceed through this document, starting at the top. Step 3 contains

The Census and Race/Ethnicity

* Read through these instructions first. Then proceed through this document, starting at the

top. Step 3 contains the actual post questions.

Step 1: Open up two tabs for these sites so you can go back and forth:

The first link above is the U.S. Census Bureau of Questions. This page of the website has links to

each census decade’s questions.

Step 2: Choose three different years from the first link , with at least one being from 1790 to

1860) and look at the questions asked about race.

Note: The first nine censuses (1790–1870) included assistant marshals to conduct the actual

enumeration. The census enumerators were typically from the village or neighborhood and

often knew the residents. Before enabling self-identification on the censuses, the US Census

Bureau relied on local people to have some knowledge of residents. Racial classification was

made by the census enumerator in these decades not by the individual.

Beginning in 1940, the options for race no longer appear on the questionnaire, so the second

link above- instructions for the enumerator (census taker) is included so you can see how race

was defined.

Also, this part of an article explains how race was determined:

This is an excerpt from a Census FAQ 2000:

Question: How will data on race be presented?

Answer: Data on race will be shown using several different options. For example, in the Public
Law 94-171 (redistricting) file, data will be shown for 63 racial categories. These include White

alone, Black or African American alone, American Indian and Alaska Native alone, Asian alone,
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, Some other race alone and 57 possible

combinations of the above six categories.

In data products where it will not be possible to show 63 racial categories, such as the
Demographic Profiles, data will be shown for seven mutually exclusive and exhaustive
categories. The seven categories are White alone, Black or African American alone, American

Indian and Alaska Native alone, Asian alone, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone,
Some other race alone, and Two or more races. The two or more races category represents all

those respondents who reported more than one race.

A third option provides data about people who reported a race either alone or in combination
with one or more other races. For example, the White alone or in combination category

consists of those respondents who reported White, whether or not they reported any other
races. In other words, people who reported only White or who reported combinations such as
“White andBlack or African American,” or “White and Asianand American Indian and Alaska

Native” are included in the White alone or in combination category. Using this option there are
six alone or in combinations groups: White alone or in combination; Black or African American
alone or in combination, American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination, Asian

alone or in combination, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination,
and Some other race alone or in combination. If the number of people in these six categories is
calculated, it will equal the total number of responses and will generally exceed the total

population.

Here is a link to FAQ on race in the 2020 census:

management/release/faqs-race-ethnicity.html

This link takes you to some color-coded maps and charts if you are a visual person and are

interested:

Step 3 -YOUR post:

a) In your discussion post, state what you found about how the racial categories changed over

time, briefly describing how they changed.

b) Were there political shifts and motivations behind changing definitions? You can do an

internet search by decade to see what was going on in America in certain years/decades to help

with the historical background. Wikipedia also has plenty of information about the census and

important events happening in those decades, for example

At the bottom of that Wikipedia page is a link to each census year and the associated Wikipedia

page.

You can also approach the historical data by a search like this

and looking at the

subcategories. There is a link to “articles and events specifically related to the year 1930.”

c) Based on what you found, what role do you think the government has played in the

definition, creation, and maintenance of racial and ethnic groups?

**Your post should answer the questions posed under “Step 3 Your Post”: a), b), c)

Reply to one group member with insightful commentary.

management/release/faqs-race-ethnicity.html
management/release/faqs-race-ethnicity.html

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