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Tabulating the census

After the 1880 U.S. Census, it took eight years to tally the data by hand. This led Census officials to consider using mechanical counting devices like the Hollerith Tabulating System. The Constitution requires that the population of the United States be counted every 10 years to allocate seats in the House of Representatives. The growing belief that good information promoted good government prompted the Census Bureau to add questions about wealth, nationality, education, housing, and other areas of political concern. By the 1880 census, there were 215 subject areas, generating more data than could readily be processed.

 

 



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