Lesson II-6: Census data

April 27th, 2009 by Jack Styczynski

The Census Bureau has one of the most valuable and densely-packed web sites you’ll encounter.  Like NYC.gov, it seems you’ll constantly find new information there that will amaze you with its obscurity and level of detail.  Below are some of my favorite Census Bureau pages, with thanks to fellow research colleague Barbara Oliver for her assistance.

  • First and foremost is the American FactFinder, which includes fast access to fact sheets for your community, as well as annual American Community Survey data.  The latter provides the best place to get estimates since the last decennial census was undertaken in 2000.  You definitely should familiarize yourself with how to navigate this!
  • State and County QuickFacts provides easy access via a map for a quick look at some broad statistics for states, counties and cities.
  • The Statistical Abstract is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.  Note that past years of the publication are also available.
  • Facts for Features & Special Editions consist of collections of statistics from the Census Bureau’s demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news.
  • Also worth a look are the United States and World PopClocks, and Frequently Occurring Surnames From Census 2000.  Check to see how common your name is!

Additionally, it’s important to note that there are many excellent “third party” sites that aggregate Census Bureau data.  Below are a few of my favorites in that category.

  • The New York City Department of City Planning’s population page has some excellent resources, including American Community Survey data and a map delineating Community Districts and Census Bureau PUMAs.
  • Infoshare Online and Social Explorer are two subscription sources we have that I’ve mentioned both this semester and last.  Take advantage of CUNY access!
  • The University of Virginia Library has a great Historical Census Browser with data from 1790 to 1960.  Need slave and slaveholder statistics?  (Ugh.)  This is one place to easily find them.

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