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Government Documents Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

UNO Center for Public Affairs Research

The Center for Public Affairs Research is a research and community outreach unit of the UNO College of Public Affairs and Community Service. Survey research support is a key component of CPAR's mission.

CPAR is also the lead agency for the Nebraska State Data Center Program. This program is a cooperative program between the U.S. Census Bureau and individual states. This relationship has resulted in CPAR taking an active role in analyzing and disseminating information from the 1990, 2000 and 2010 Censuses.

The Census on the Internet

The website serves as the primary gateway to the U.S. Census Bureau's online data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 Census of Population and Housing. also links to the American Community Survey, an annual survey which is intended to replace much of the social and economic data formerly collected only once a decade.

We recommend the U.S. Census Bureau's Historical Data and Reports website, where one can find a growing historical collection of reports from the Census of Population and Housing, scanned into PDF files.

The Bureau also offers a number of online reports which compile time series data from the population censuses.

Historical Statistics of the United States, 1790-1970 was compiled to observe the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976, and it includes many tables offering long time series.


The Census in the Library

The U.S. Constitution requires that a census of the population be taken once every ten years, so that seats in the U.S. House of Representatives may be proportionally distributed among the states. The U.S. Census Bureau also conducts many other social and economic surveys, and Criss Library holds strong historical collections of the reports.

Few paper copies of census documents are sent to libraries now that Internet-accessible databases are the primary means of distribution. However, online census data extending back prior to 1990 are rather limited, so the printed reports remain very important to those who must gather older information.

Census of Population and Housing, 1790-2010

This is the ten-year, or decennial, census; and the library has a comprehensive collection of summary reports. The basic summary reports may be found on the U.S. Documents shelves along an aisle set aside just for them.

For the 1970, 1980, and 1990 censuses, the library purchased a microfiche archive encompassing hundreds of additional reports.

The library holds microfilm copies of original, handwritten census forms for these censuses:

  • Nebraska, 1860, 1870, and 1900
  • Iowa, 1900
  • Oregon, 1900

The MyHeritage database includes scanned and searchable copies of the manuscript census forms from 1790-1940.

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States

When the U.S. Bureau of the Census ceased publishing its annual Statistical Abstract after 2012, ProQuest stepped in to continue the series, which extends back to 1878.  The ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States follows much the same format and achieves similar comprehensiveness.  It also provides the option to download tables in either PDF or Excel formats.  Earlier editions remain available here.