The US Constitution mandates a census be taken every 10 years. An accurate population count is essential to the fair allocation of seats in the US House of Representatives. The count includes citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and illegal residents. A special effort is made to count the homeless population and those who live in non-traditional housing though the count is not as accurate as for those who live in traditional housing.
By law census responses can be used ony to generate statistical information. Census employees are prohibited from revealing information that could be used to identify any person, household, or business. Census data is confidential for 72 years after the census is taken, at which time individual response are published by the Census Bureau to enable historical and genealogical research.
The American Community Survey is a Census Bureau project that gathers information about population and demographics between full censuses. Using statistical sampling techniques, the ACS estimates changes in population and demographic information between full census counts.
The Census QuickFacts tool is a good place to start your research. Enter your city name into the search box and you'll get a table with population, demographic, economic, health and business information for your city or town. You can compare your city to other cities and to the entire US. QuickFacts pulls information from both the full census and the American Community Survey.
American Fact Finder is another tool that pulls information from both the census and the American Community Survey. American Fact Finder allows you to sort through the data from the census and the ACS as well as including information from previous censuses.
City government websites can be useful resources for information about local government, city services, and economic information. They may also have information that would be useful to residents, businesses, and visitors. There is a wide-range of quality in city government websites- be prepared that some will not have lots of useful information and they may not be the most user-friendly resource.
Not all cities and towns will have their own website, some may be hosted on county or borough websites and some may not have any official government site. When that happens, try looking for related sites like chambers of commerce or a local school district.
You will see a variety of internet domains including: .com, .org, .gov, .net, and .us
Try looking for tourism sites, local blogs, public libraries, and historical societies to find stories that are unique to the community you are researching. See some examples below and search online to find more!