The U.S. federal census was founded to apportion congressional representation among the states. In order to achieve additional goals, it switched in 1850 from recording households in summary, to recording individuals in detail. It became self-administered in 1960 to reduce costs. It has always been a political instrument of the administration in power. Today, the census encourages identity politics and so wavers between the goal of capturing “race” as a form of ethnic self-identity, and the equally desired but conflicting goal of capturing “race” as involuntary physical trait.