Introducing Signs of Change – Discovering Events & Phenomenon in US History Through Census Data

Today, we are excited to launch a brand new content Initiative called Signs of Change on Tuva. The overarching goal of this initiative is simple, yet incredibly powerful. 

We want to empower learners to discover events and phenomenon in US History – events such as the Civil War, the Great Migration, the Rise of Women in the Workforce, the Baby Boom, and many others – by enabling them to explore, visualize, and analyze US Census Data from 1850 – 2000. 


The US Census 

It’s worth to take a side journey and learn a little bit about the US Census. The US Census is a decennial census, and is mandated by Article 1, Section of our Constitution. 

The first Census after the American Revolution was conducted in 1790 (under then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson), but the 1850 Census was the landmark census in that it was the first time the Census Bureau attempted to record every member of every household, including women, children, and slaves. To note, the population of the US in the 1850 Census was 23.1 million. 

The last Census took place in 2010, and it was the first time the US population exceeded 300 million!  

A Dance Between History & Mathematics 

The Signs of Change Initiative is a unique opportunity to connect history and mathematics for learners, enabling them to use foundational mathematics and statistics concepts to topics they are learning in their history class.  

For this initiative, we plan to curate a variety of datasets from the US Census Microdata from 1850 – 2000 over the coming weeks. In addition, we will make available sample activities and lessons around these datasets that you can use immediately, or that you can modify to make them appropriate for the needs of your students.  

Extending this Approach Beyond US Census

We strongly believe that this approach can be adopted well beyond just the US Census. The Census is a powerful instrument that countries around the world use to acquire and record information about their own citizens.

For all our educators outside the US – if you are interested in bringing this kind of an initiative with the Census data from your country, please submit your thoughts in Discussions or write to us directly.  


The initiative has been adapted from an actual book called Signs of Change, originally compiled and edited by Dr.Tim Erickson. The book stems from a collection of statistics projects his students conducted at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, CA in Fall 2011. 

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr.Tim Erickson and all the students who participated in the original project. 

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