Monday, September 7, 2009

Wonderful Resource for Census Data

The Population Center at the University of Minnesota has established the National Historic Geographic Information System, which provides - free of charge - aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2000. If you are familiar with GIS, this is a great resource that allows you to download shape files so that you can easily map statistical data from the census. If you don't have access to GIS technology, you can simply download the aggregate census data into an Excel spreadsheet. You can even map this data on your own using Social Explorer.

There is a lot of technical jargon on the NHGIS site, so if you want to access the aggregate data, go to Statistical Data and select Download Aggregate data. From there select Data Finder. You will need to create a login ID and password. Select Historical Census if you want to research census data prior to 1970. Census data for Richmond is available from 1800 on, but if you want census tract data for specific areas of the city, you will only be able to find it starting with the 1940 census. If you want to access census tract data, I would highly recommend you use Social Explorer to map out census tract boundaries before you go to Data Finder and select the census tracts.

I played around with Data Finder and discovered some fun facts about housing in the Ginter Park area in 1940.

Let me know if you have any questions about how to use this great resource.

- Catherine E.

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