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The Social and Economic Status of the Black Population in the United States: An Historical View, 1790-1978

Report Number P23-80

This report presents an historical view of changes in the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the Black population. The historical profile is the distinguishing feature of this report, which is the ninth in the series on Black Americans. The study assembles, in one report, data which have been previously published in many different volumes.

The report is presented in two parts—the first part covering statistics from the time of the first census in 1790 until 1975, and the second part covering developments from 1975 to 1978. Major changes related to a particular aspect of life for the Black population are discussed in the text of each chapter. Detailed tables provide statistics relative to the following subjects: Population growth, distribution, and composition; income; labor force, employment, and business ownership; education, family; mortality and fertility; housing; voting, elected officials, and the Armed Forces; and recent social and economic characteristics.

In addition, the report includes 17 charts which illustrate various phases of the data, as well as three appendixes which provide information on references for tables and text, definitions and explanations, and sources and reliability of the data.

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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