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Census Data Resources: Spatial Data for GIS Users

Subject Guide for Census Data Resources

How to Cite Spatial Data

Spatial Data from the Census

Please note that these are boundary files only- they do not come with census attributes included. 

TIGER/Line Shapefiles 

For assistance in using these data, see the collection of tutorials Working with TIGER/Line Shapefiles.

Understanding Census Geography

  • As the boundaries of many census geographic units are based on population, the boundaries change between censuses.
  • The nation was not broken down into tracts, block groups, and blocks for all censuses. For example, there are many portions of North Carolina that were not broken down into tracts in 1980.

Resources for Understanding Census Geography

Geographic Areas Reference Manual (GARM)

Spatial Data with Census Attributes

The Census Bureau has made available a limited set of TIGER/Line shapefiles and geodatabases with a subset of demographic data already included as attributes.  Esri Data & Maps data sets also include spatial data with some census demographics attributes included. 

These data can be downloaded from the web.  The ESRI data are licensed so UNC authentication is required for access.  The Census data are freely downloadable as they are in the public domain.

If the census variables you need are not included in the attribute tables, you will need to extract the tabular data and join it with a boundary dataset for mapping.  A great place to get attributes is Social Explorer. Here are some instructions on How to Use Social Explorer Data in ArcMap.

American Community Survey

TIGER/Line Shapefiles Pre-joined with Demographic Data - U.S. Census Bureau

Census 2010

TIGER/Line Shapefiles Pre-joined with Demographic Data - U.S. Census Bureau

2010 Census data from Esri:  the data listed below are from Esri Data & Maps for ArcGIS 10.1, published by Esri in 2012.  Note: Although published in 2012, these data depict 2010 Census boundaries.

2010 Block Centroid Populations

2010 U.S. Block Groups

2010 U.S. Tracts

2010  Populated Place Areas

2010 Counties

2010 States

Census 2000

2000 Census data from Esri:  the data listed below are from Esri Data & Maps 9.3, published by Esri in 2008.  Note: Although published in 2008, these data depict 2000 Census boundaries.
2000 Block Centroid Populations

2000 U.S. Block Groups

2000 U.S. Tracts

2000  Populated Place Areas

2000 Counties

2000 U.S. Core Based Statistical Areas

2000 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas

2000 States

Census 1990

1990 Census data from Esri:  the data listed below are from Esri Data & Maps published by Esri in 2000.  Note: Although published in 2000, these data depict 1990 Census boundaries.

1990 Block Groups (by state)

1990 U.S. Tracts

1990 Tracts (by state)

1990 Populated Place Areas

1990 Counties

1990 States

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.

Your Librarian

Sheila Devaney's picture
Sheila Devaney
Research & Instruction Department
Main Library
University of Georgia
912-268-0539 (For Spring 2021 please use my Google Voice number)