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Counting Americans : how the US Census classified the nation

Author: Paul Schor
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2020. ©2017
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : Oxford Press paperback [edition]View all editions and formats
Summary:
"How could the same person be classified by the US census as black in 1900, mulatto in 1910, and white in 1920? The history of categories used by the US census reflects a country whose identity and self-understanding--particularly its social construction of race--is closely tied to the continuous polling on the composition of its population. By tracing the evolution of the categories the United States used to count  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Census data
History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Paul Schor
ISBN: 9780190092474 0190092475 9780199917853 019991785X
OCLC Number: 1109811980
Language Note: Translated from the French.
Notes: Originally published as: Compter et classer : Histoire des recensements américains by Paul Schor, Éditions de l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, 2009.
Description: xvii, 356 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction --
Part I: The origins of the US Census : from enumeration of voters and taxpayers to "social statistics," 1790-1840. The creation of the Federal Census by the Constitution of the United States : a political instrument ; The first developments of the national census (1800-1830) ; The census of 1840 : science, politics, and "insanity" of free blacks --
Part II: Slaves, former slaves, blacks, and mulattoes : identification of the individual and the statistical segregation of populations (1850-1865). Whether to name or count slaves : the refusal of identification ; Color, race, and origin of slaves and free persons : "White" "Black," and "Mulatto" in the censuses of 1850 and 1860 ; Color and status of slaves : legal definition and census practice ; Census data for 1850 and 1860 and the defeat of the south --
Part III: The rise of immigration and the racialization of society : the adaptation of the census to the diversity of the American population (1850-1900). Modernization, standardization, and internationalization : from the censuses of J.C.G. Kennedy (1850 and 1860) to the first census of Francis A. Walker (1870) ; From slavery to freedom : the future of the black race or racial mixing as degeneration ; From "Mulatto" to the "One Drop Rule" (1870-1900) ; The slow integration of Indians into US population statistics in the nineteenth century ; The Chinese and Japanese in the census : nationalities that are also races ; Immigration, nativism, and statistics (1850-1900) --
Part IV: Apogee and decline of ethnic statistics (1900-1940). The disappearance of the "Mulatto" as the end of inquiry into the composition of the black population of the United States ; The question of racial mixing in the American possessions : national norms and local resistance ; Illustrations ; New Asian races, new mixtures, and the "Mexican" race : interest in "minor races" ; From statistics by country of birth to the system of national origins --
Part V: The population and the census : representation, negotiation, and segmentation (1900-1940) ; The census and African Americans within and outside the bureau ; Women as census workers and as relays in the field ; Ethnic marketing of population statistics --
Epilogue: The fortunes of census classifications (1940-2000) --
Conclusion.
Other Titles: Compter et classer.
Responsibility: Paul Schor ; translated by Lys Ann Weiss.

Abstract:

Tracing the evolutions of the categories used by the US census to classify Americans from the first census (1790) to 1940, this book shows the centrality of power relations and of racial ideologies  Read more...

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For scholars who consult the US Census in their research, historian Schor's outstanding book is invaluable....The research is impeccable, especially Schor's use of congressional archives to determine Read more...

 
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The history of categories used by the US census reflects a country whose identity and self-understanding--particularly its social construction of race--is closely tied to the continuous polling on the composition of its population. By tracing the evolution of the categories the United States used to count and classify its population from 1790 to 1940, Paul Schor shows that, far from being simply a reflection of society or a mere instrument of power, censuses are actually complex negotiations between the state, experts, and the population itself. The census is not an administrative or scientific act, but a political one. Counting Americans is a social history exploring the political stakes that pitted various interests and groups of people against each other as population categories were constantly redefined. Utilizing new archival material from the Census Bureau, this study pays needed attention to the long arc of contested changes in race and census-making. It traces changes in how race mattered in the United States during the era of legal slavery, through its fraught end, and then during (and past) the period of Jim Crow laws, which set different ethnic groups in conflict. And it shows how those developing policies also provided a template for classifying Asian groups and white ethnic immigrants from southern and eastern Europe--and how they continue to influence the newly complicated racial imaginings informing censuses in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Focusing in detail on slaves and their descendants, on racialized groups and on immigrants, and on the troubled imposition of U.S. racial categories upon the populations of newly acquired territories, Counting Americans demonstrates that census-taking in the United States has been at its core a political undertaking shaped by racial ideologies that reflect its violent history of colonization, enslavement, segregation and discrimination.<\/span>\"@en<\/a> ;\u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\nschema:description<\/a> \"Introduction -- Part I: The origins of the US Census : from enumeration of voters and taxpayers to \"social statistics,\" 1790-1840. The creation of the Federal Census by the Constitution of the United States : a political instrument ; The first developments of the national census (1800-1830) ; The census of 1840 : science, politics, and \"insanity\" of free blacks -- Part II: Slaves, former slaves, blacks, and mulattoes : identification of the individual and the statistical segregation of populations (1850-1865). Whether to name or count slaves : the refusal of identification ; Color, race, and origin of slaves and free persons : \"White\" \"Black,\" and \"Mulatto\" in the censuses of 1850 and 1860 ; Color and status of slaves : legal definition and census practice ; Census data for 1850 and 1860 and the defeat of the south -- Part III: The rise of immigration and the racialization of society : the adaptation of the census to the diversity of the American population (1850-1900). Modernization, standardization, and internationalization : from the censuses of J.C.G. Kennedy (1850 and 1860) to the first census of Francis A. Walker (1870) ; From slavery to freedom : the future of the black race or racial mixing as degeneration ; From \"Mulatto\" to the \"One Drop Rule\" (1870-1900) ; The slow integration of Indians into US population statistics in the nineteenth century ; The Chinese and Japanese in the census : nationalities that are also races ; Immigration, nativism, and statistics (1850-1900) -- Part IV: Apogee and decline of ethnic statistics (1900-1940). 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