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The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship

Lawmakers are set to question the Justice Department Friday about why it requested the 2020 census to ask about citizenship. The history of using the U.S. census to ask about citizenship has many twists and turns.

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Corrected: April 24, 2019 at 11:00 PM CDT
In this story, we incorrectly imply the U.S. census did not ask about citizenship status for the national head counts between 1840 and 1890. In fact, questions for the 1870 census included, "Is this person a male citizen of the United States of 21 years or upwards?"
Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.