One of the many reasons free government information is useful is that it can be analyzed to reveal fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, facts about our history. An excellent example of this is Robert Lopresti's new book, When Women Didn't Count: The Chronic Mismeasure and Marginalization of American Women in Federal Statistics:
In the book,
society's (and government's) changing attitudes toward women are
chronicled through statistics on marriage, motherhood, heads of households,
occupations, health, crime, and military service, among other topics.
The focus isn't on the statistics themselves, but on how and why they
were collected as they were. It is, indeed, both fascinating and
(Lopresti is a librarian, but when he isn't examining the
mysteries of government statistics he's writing popular mystery stories.
You might want to check those out as well.)