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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:

  • Census of Population and Housing data back to 1790 (geographic level varies)
  • American Community Survey Data

data.census.gov
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.

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.

Neighborhood Change Database (NCDB)
Tracks and normalizes population change at the census tract level from 1970-2010. Note that SimplyAnalytics contains normalized census tract boundaries. Contact datahelp@gmu.edu to arrange for access.

Virginia & DC Metro Area Data

Data about the local region is included in the data sources described above (Social Explorer, data.census.gov, 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

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

NOVA Region Dashboard (Northern Virginia Regional Commission)

Virginia Employment Commission

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Arlington County & City of Alexandria

DC Data (Department of Planning)

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

Maryland State Data Center

Prince William County 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.