The first census in the Oregon Country was taken by Elijah White, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, in 1842. In 1845 the Provisional Government authorized a second census. In 1848 the Oregon Territory was established and the governor was given authority to take 'an enumeration of the inhabitants and qualified voters of the several counties and districts of the territory.' The territorial census rolls and abstracts were used to document county population and to report statistics to the government. These census tallied statistics for apportionment, school-age children, and military strength.
The federal census (population schedules), taken every ten years, gives specific information which has expanded over the years. The 1850 census includes each name in a household, their age, occupation for head of the household, and state, territory or country of birth. The 1930 population schedule includes thirty two items including place of abode, name, relation to the head of the family, age at first marriage, home owned or rented (value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented), whether the family owned a radio set, personal description, education, citizenship, nativity, mother tongue, and whether a veteran of U. S. Military or naval forces.
The federal government also took special (nonpopulation) schedules on agriculture, industry, mortality and social statistics for administrative purposes. The 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 mortality schedules contain information on persons who died during the twelve months prior to the date the census was taken. Some of the entries give the cause of death. The agricultural schedules for these years also include names of individuals. The other special schedules include only statistical data and not the names of individuals.