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Census & Demographic Data

Use this guide to identify appropriate sources for population and census data.

Census of Population & Housing / American Community Survey

Social Explorer (library subscription)
Provide thousands of interactive data maps and tables going back to 1790. Social Explorer includes:
U.S. Census Bureau’s access tool to population, housing, economic, and geographic data from the Census of Population and Housing, Economic Census, American Community Survey, and more.  

SimplyAnalytics (library subscription)
A web-based mapping application for the U.S. including demographic data, census data (back to 1980), crime, business & marketing data, employment, consumer spending, housing, health and more. 

Census Reporter
Generates data visualizations based on census data for a location of interest. You can generate reports and download data too.

Specialized Census Data Tools

Microdata and individual responses
Microdata are the individual responses to census questionnaires. Individual response data will allow you to analyze data at the household or person unit and create customized tables. They are limited to locations of 100,000 persons or more.

Normalized Census Tract Boundaries

Longitudinal Tract Database (Brown University) The continual change in geography between successive censuses is a major barrier for longitudinal analysis. Census tracts are fundamental enumeration units for the U.S. decennial censuses and their boundaries very often change over time. In every new census many tracts are split, consolidated, or changed in other ways from the previous boundaries to reflect population growth or decline. The LTDB tracks and normalizes tract boundary changes back to 1970.

SimplyAnalytics contains normalized census tract boundaries from 1980 to present.
Social Explorer U.S. Census Comparability Data for 2000 to 2010.

Virginia & DC Metro Area Data

Data about the local region is included in the data sources described above (Social Explorer,, etc.). Local jurisdictions compile their own specialized reports based off of data from the Census and ACS and other major data collection programs. Below are links to major sources for the metro area.
Virginia DC Region

City of Alexandria
Arlington County

NOVA Region Dashboard
Northern Virginia Regional Commission)

Fairfax County - Maps & Data
Fairfax County Demographics Archives - archive of
demographic reports published by the county.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Loudon County

DC Data (Department of Planning)

Prince William County DC State Data Center

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

Maryland State Data Center

Virginia Employment Commission Center for Regional Analysis (PDF reports)


Historical Census Data

Historical Censuses

Social Explorer (above) provides historical census data back to 1790. It's a great place to start, but it is not complete. Use the following to supplement Social Explorer or to determine what year data for your area of interest was collected.

Historical Census Publications (Census Bureau)
PDF versions of historical census publications, back to 1790. The following two resources will help you determine which PDF to use:

HathiTrust has digitized Census of Population and Housing volumes. When searching HathiTrust, search the catalog to locate what you need. We are a member institution.

National Historic GIS (NHGIS) The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2015.

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS-USA)
For use with statistical analysis software, IPUMS has Census of Population and Housing microdata for social and economic research back to 1790. Can select variables and customize dataset before downloading.

Visualization of the Evolution of the American Census (The Pudding)
Visualization of what census questions changed and what have stayed the same.