Block/block group level data back to 1960 Decennial

Hi! I’m hoping to get block or block-group level data from the Decennial Census for 1960-2000 (and ACS for 2010ish). It looks like block data is available for 1970, 1990, and 2000, and block-group data is available for 1990-forward.

Is this data just not available (even if I got it directly from Census) or has it not yet been added to NHGIS?

Hi Elizabeth,

We do not have 1960 block data for NHGIS. It is only available in printed volumes or as scanned PDFs. You can find the 1960 scanned PDFs by following these instructions:

a. Go do https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html
b. Click the Census of Population and Housing, 1960 link
c. Then, click the 1960 Census of Housing link
d. Finally, click the Vol III. City Blocks link
e. You will then be shown a list of cities with links to the scanned volumes

We do not have plans to converted the scanned PDFs to machine-readable data at this time.

We actually have 1980 block data, but it’s a bit difficult to find. Here are instructions for locating them:

So, we do have the 1980 block data, but they are a bit tricky to find! The Bureau published the 1980 block data using two different geographic hierarchies - one for MCD states (e.g., New England states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, etc…) and one for non-MCD states (e.g., California, Nevada, Texas, etc…). There is no easy way for us to reconcile these hierarchies, so we keep them separate.

One of the knock-on effects of keeping them separate means they get “buried” in our website. Here is how you can find them:

  1. Go to https://data2.nhgis.org/main

  2. Open the DATASETS filter popup.

  3. Scroll down to the 1980 Decennial Census and click the plus icon next to 1980_STF1.

  4. Click the Submit button to apply the filter

  5. Now, choose the data tables you want. Click the plus icons to add them to your data cart.

  6. After you’re done selecting tables, click the green CONTINUE button in the data cart.

  7. You will now be on the Options page. Click the SELECT GEOGRAPHIC LEVELS button to open the popup.

  8. Here is the magic trick - in the upper right corner of the popup, you will see a link that says SHOW COMPOUND GEOGRAPHIC LEVELS. Click that link.

  9. Scroll down the popup until you see the work BLOCK. You should see two options nested under BLOCK - one for MCD states and one for non-MCD states. You can click on the plus icons for both.

  10. Click SUBMIT button to apply your choices.

  11. Click the green CONTINUE button in the data cart to move onto the last step.

I hope this helps!

Dave Van Riper

Hey Dave-- this is super helpful! Thanks so much!

I think we’ll leave the 1960 data to the paper files, since 1970 is close enough to the first year of the other data that we’re using.