Census Data Resources: Spatial Data

Guide to (mostly online) resources for manipulating and extracting Census data.

Both Boundaries and Attributes are Needed for Creating Maps

Some Census boundary sources provide Census variables already included as attributes, while some provide boundary files with only geographic identifiers in the attribute table.  

It may be necessary to download a demographics data table and then join it to corresponding spatial boundaries to make a map.  

boundaries+   =

We recommend using Census Boundaries from Esri, tabular data extracted froSocial Explorer, and joining them by following these instructions.   


Alternatively, NHGIS also offers Census boundaries and tables that can be joined.  You must create a free account.  Here's how to join NHGIS data and boundary files.

Spatial Data from the Census (no attributes)

Spatial Data with Census Attributes

*Census Boundaries from Esri (limited attributes are included, such as population, age, race, sex, and housing - no income or education variables)

Census 2010

These data came with Esri Data & Maps for ArcGIS 10.1.  Although published in 2012, these data depict 2010 Census boundaries.

Census 2000

These data came with Esri Data & Maps 9.3.  Although published in 2008, these data depict 2000 Census boundaries. 

Census 1990

These data came with Esri Data & Maps (2000).  Although published in 2000, these data depict 1990 Census boundaries.

Important note about the Esri data: The lineage of these data include TomTom North America Inc., Geographic Data Technology Inc., TeleAtlas and Esri.  Like all spatial data, features from different sources will contain variations due to data lineage and processing steps.  Consult metadata for more information.