Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Free Historical Census Data: 1970, 1980, 1990

Received a request over the weekend for 1990 Census data on the block level beyond what is currently available through our local holdings. We are purchasing the CensusCD 1990 Blocks from Geolytics, but in the meanwhile this forced me to take some time exploring free historical Census data availability and so here are the results of what I discovered.

U.S. Census Bureau
  • Data Files: Census 1980
  • Data Files: Census 1990
    • These downloadable data files are fantastic in that users can freely download the entire 1980 and 1990 dataset, including all the summary tape files (STF). Downside is they are not easy to use. Choice is to install the Extract software or access the DBF files yourself. In the past I imported the DBF file containing the STF 1B for Texas into an Access database and made that database available to our library users, who would then run queries against the data. (Access, of course, will be much improved when we acquire CensusCD 1990 Blocks.
  • American Factfinder
    • Everyone loves this fantastic resource, but it only offers data from 1990 and 2000. Their 1990 holdings do not contain STF 1B, and so do not go down to the block level.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Demography and Ecology
  • 1970 Census Summary Tape Files
    • Files for all available states and the District of Columbia for the 1970 4th Count A and C population and housing files may be downloaded.
  • Current Population Surveys (various, from 1963 - 1990)
  • 1980 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)

UC Berkeley Social Science and Government Data Library: Files to FTP
  • Been having trouble accessing their public archive, which is too bad as it has been a fantastic resource. Seems as if their FTP server dis not permitting public anonymous logon. Their FTP server is permitting anonymous logon, but does not contain their data. Hopefully their data will be made available to the public again.
Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
  • This is not a free resource, but it seems silly comprising this list without mentioning the ICPSR. Many (if not most) academic universities should be a member of ICPSR and have access to its data holdings.
  • Here are their Decennial Census holdings.


Meg said...

Hi mapz,

Thanks for this fill listing. How about the Univ of Minnesota's historical census project?

"The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) is a project to create and freely disseminate a database incorporating all available aggregate census information for the United States between 1790 and 2000."

Meg said...

"Thanks for this fill listing" I should have previewed...the word should be full. Oops.

mapz said...

This is an incredible resource. I can not thank you enough for letting me know about it. I just registered and received an account and am all excited about the possibilities.

Unfortunately, I have real work to do now (which means less than pleasant), but you have given me something to look forward to this afternoon.

Thanks again.

Diana Stuart Sinton said...

SocialExplorer ( has also added 20th century decennial data to their maps.

Diana Sinton

FairPan2020 said...

I was getting worried that the Berkeley site had disappeared, but everything is still there -- nationwide 1990 TIGER and PL-94-171,for example:

Your link actually goes to sunsite.berekely instead.

You probably know about this one, but just in case here is another excellent historical GIS site:


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