Only starting in 1960 could people choose their own race on the Census. Only starting in 2000 could people choose more than one race.

Below is a graphic from the Pew Research Center that shows how the Census’ descriptions of people have changed over the last couple centuries. In 1790, you would have essentially fallen into the categories of either “free” or “slave.” Today, there are 19 choices.

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...