The Census: Not Really So Nosy

Millions of Americans become incensed decennially at the nosiness of their Government. They forget that the U.S. census is not nearly as outrageously curious as it once was. In 1890, for example, the federal inquisitors asked no fewer than 470 questions. Among the most impertinent: "If there are any idiots living in the house, what is their head size (small, large, or natural)?" "Has the origin of this child been respectable?" "Is this resident habitually intemperate, a tramp, or syphilitic?"

The nine million heads of households who received the long forms by mail...

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