Tracking Language Use and the Decennial Census

Since 1790, the decennial census has been arguably the single most important U.S. geographic-demographic-economic statistical data resource. Data from these decennial censuses are in daily widespread use for analysis and decision-making. The companion TIGER/Line digital map database is the underlying geographic database enabling most Web browser maps. The TIGER data helped spawn the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and visual data analysis.

This section illustrates use of the New York Times Chronicle tool to track language use relating to the decennial census. The Chronicle tool can be used to visualize language use in the New York Times news coverage throughout its history. The following graphics show results of using the Chronicle tool. There are additional features of the tool not shown here, notably lists of accessible NYT stories. Click graphics for larger view.

Decennial Census — all references

Decennial Census — 1960 through 2010

More about Census 2010

Redistricting – Reapportionment — a basic reason for the decennial census

More about congressional districtsstate legislative districts

Asian – Hispanic — race/origin; decennial census is source of most detailed data on these topics

More about Asian populationHispanic population

Integration – Segregation – Diversity — topics making widespread use of decennial census data

More about neighborhood diversityUSATODAY diversity analyses

American Community Survey — “rolling annual census” introduced in 2004

More about ACS 2013

Exactly how the decennial census has been used in stories cannot be effectively determined using the Chronicle tool. The decennial census lead-up and process of conducting and tabulation data is the basis of many stories. The use of decennial census data is yet another basis for stories.

About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data.

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