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HIST 495 : Becoming American: Immigration and Citizenship in the United States: Home

Tools for Locating Government Information

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (electronic version of the Monthly Catalog) 
Searching for Government Documents available in Libraries through their Catalogs
       Worldcat –  searches  library online catalogs
Electronic versions of Government Publications
       HathiTrust Digital Library
       Internet Archive
Bibliographies from secondary sources are very useful. They will give you leads to documents. When you have a title we can almost certainly find copies of published materials. Archival (internal documents and reports never published) sources will still be harder to find and you might have to go to an archives to get them.

Chicago Style Quick Guide

The Chicago Manual of Style can be found behind the reference desk at:  [REF] Z253 .U69 2010 

Interlibrary Loan

Requesting Books: PALCI​
Check our Online Catalog to determine whether IUP owns the book or item locally, and whether it is available to view or check out.
If the book or item you want is not owned by IUP, use PALCI E-ZBorrow to submit a request for the item. Most requests submitted through PALCI are received within one week.

Requesting Other Books  ILLIAD
We can almost always borrow published Pennsylvania state and federal publications from our regional depository, the Pennsylvania State Library.

What is the Federal Depository Library Program and What is a Depository Library?

The Federal Depository Library Program was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government’s information. GPO administers the FDLP on behalf of the participating libraries and the public. Information products from the Federal Government are disseminated to these nationwide libraries that, in turn, ensure the American public has free access to the materials, both in print Federal Government information is made available for free public use in depository libraries around the country in over 1,200 locations.

What can I find at a depository library?

  • Expert reference assistance from Government information librarians
  • Access to online Government information resources
  • A network of librarians to facilitate access to materials located at other libraries

Depositories also provide online access to Government information. GPO online services are offered to help users of all ages find Federal information, and depository librarians provide expert assistance in using these online services: More information on the Federal Depository Library System can be found at:

Understanding the U.S. Decennial Census

 Census Taker

The decennial census has been conducted in years ending in "0" since 1790, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2 states that:

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

Accordingly, a census is taken every 10 years. U.S. marshals conducted the enumeration between 1790 and 1870, and specially trained enumerators carried out the census beginning in 1880. The earliest decennial censuses were conducted under the authority of the Secretary of State. The Department of the Interior assumed responsibility in 1849. Finally, upon its creation in 1902, the Department of Commerce and Labor's permanent U.S. Census Bureau oversaw the census.

The first decennial census was a "simple" count. It consisted of six questions and counted approximately 3.9 million people for purposes of apportioning the U.S. House of Representatives. For the 2010 census, one million enumerator  assisted the Census Bureau in counting more than 300 million of the nation's inhabitants. In addition to apportioning state representation, census data is used to make decisions effecting legislation and spending on housing, highways, hospitals, schools, assistance programs, and scores of projects and programs that are vital to the health and welfare of the U.S. population and economy.

Additional information, including lists of the questions asked during each census, can be found on this Web site in Through the Decades.

For historical information about the decennial censuses see, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 and the procedural histories of each census. 



Aggregated Data

Historical Statistics on the Foreign Born Population of the United States: 1850-1990 Bureau of the Census
Tables include country of birth, mother tongue, race, age and sex at the national level. Also provides nativity data (foreign or native born) for metropolitan areas, counties, and 50 large urban areas.

Provides raw data files for manipulation and analysis. Browse from, Census Enumerations: Historical and Contemporary Population Characteristics.

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) University of Minnesota
Provides access to PUMS data of the Decennial Census for 1850-1990. Data can be downloaded in compressed format, and recoding permits users to compare various years.

What Can the Census Tell Me?

Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.

From 1850 to 1940, details are provided for all individuals in each household, such as:

  • names of family members
  • their ages at a certain point in time
  • their state or country of birth
  • their parent's birthplaces
  • year of immigration
  • street address
  • marriage status and years of marriage
  • occupation(s)
  • value of their home and personal belongings the crops that they grew (in agricultural schedules), etc.

Not all of this kind of information is available in every census. Before the 1850 Census, few of these details were recorded. From 1790-1840, only the head of household is listed and the number of household members in selected age groups.
Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.


For more information on what you can learn from the census, visit the National Archives Census page at


Get Help

You can contact the library reference desk by telephone most day and early evening hours during regular  semesters at 724-357-3006.  Text us a question at 724-401-1984 or ask us a question through our email reference service Ask A Question Link.

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