The 2000 census was conducted primarily by mailing or delivering questionnaires to addresses on a computerized mailing list—the MAF—and asking residents to fill out the questionnaires and mail them back.1 The Census Bureau first used mailout/mailback techniques with an address list in the 1970 census,2 but the procedures to develop the 2000 MAF differed in several important respects from those used in past censuses (see Working Group on LUCA, 2001; Owens, 2000). The major difference from 1990 was that the 2000 MAF was constructed using more sources.

C.1.a Initial Development

The Census Bureau used somewhat different procedures to develop the MAF for areas believed to have predominantly city-style mailing addresses (house number and street) than for areas believed to have predominantly rural route and post office box mailing addresses (see Box C.1). City-style areas were those inside the “blue line,” and non-city-style areas were those outside the “blue line.”3 For areas inside the blue line, the Bureau expected to have U.S. Postal Service carriers deliver questionnaires to most addresses on the list; for areas outside the blue line, the Bureau expected to use its own field workers to deliver questionnaires.

For remote rural areas, which have less than 1 percent of the population, Census Bureau enumerators developed the address list concurrently with enumerating households in person. For special places in which people live in nonresidential settings, such as college dormitories, prisons, nursing homes and other group quarters, the Bureau used a variety of sources to develop an address list.


The Census Bureau refers to the version of the MAF that was used in the census as the Decennial Master Address File or DMAF. It is an extract of the full MAF, which includes business as well as residential addresses. Use of the term MAF in this report refers to the DMAF.


Unaddressed short-form questionnaires were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service in the 1960 census to 80 percent of households, but residents were to hold the questionnaires for enumerators to pick up. At every fourth household, enumerators left a long-form questionnaire, which respondents were to fill out and mail back (National Research Council, 1995b:189).


The blue line was a late-1997 Census Bureau demarcation.

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