November 25, 2020

Measuring Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790–2010: A New Interactive Visualization From U.S. Census

From the Random Sampling Blog:

Over the years, the U.S. Census Bureau has collected information on race and ethnicity. The census form has always reflected changes in society, and shifts have occurred in the way the Census Bureau classifies race and ethnicity. Historically, the changes have been influenced by social, political and economic factors including emancipation, immigration and civil rights.

Today, the Census Bureau collects race and ethnic data according to U.S. Office of Management and Budget guidelines, and these data are based on self-identification.

A new interactive visualization released today shows how race and ethnicity categories have changed over time since the first census in 1790.

This allows us to better understand the relationship between historical classifications and the present time. A static version of this same visualization was presented in April 2015 at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting.

We created this interactive timeline to establish a starting point for the public — including community stakeholders, academics and data users — to understand how race and ethnicity categories have changed over 220 years in the decennial census. This understanding is important as we interpret results from the 2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment and the current middecade testing of race and ethnicity questions, including the 2015 National Content Test. The National Content Test will inform design changes for collecting data on race and ethnicity in the 2020 Census and other ongoing demographic and economic surveys conducted by the Census Bureau.

Direct to New Interactive Visualization: Measuring Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790–2010
Cursor over, click each box for info and images.

Info sources are cited at the bottom of the visualization.

Read the Complete Blog Post

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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