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The Evolution of the American Census

This year marks the 24th United States Census. The U.S. Census has important implications for our government and legal systems. For example, the data "determine[s] how many seats each state should have in Congress." Over time, the Census's questions have evolved. As The Evolution of the American Census notes, these changes "tell us a lot about the country's priorities, norms, and biases in each decade." Using data from the U.S. Census website and other primary and secondary sources, the project tracks the questions asked each decade (color-coding by question category to show broader shifts in Census priorities over time). Readers can also explore the project by theme (e.g., "Economy and Employment" or "Immigration and Citizenship") using the dropdown box near the top of the page. The left-hand panel of the screen briefly summarizes each Census year; meanwhile, the right-hand panel provides historical context, chronicling key dates and events (e.g., wars and legal decisions and amendments). Not only is the project interactive and informative, but it ends with a reflection, reminding users: "the democratic ideal of the census means that every ten years, we have the chance to carry out a better system to count every person in the United States." Developer Alec Barrett created this project at data visualization agency TWO-N, and it was published in The Pudding in March of 2020.
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2020-07-03
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