Unincorporated Places 1920


I am looking for information on/lists of unincorporated places in historic census data (c. 1920). Ideally, geographic coordinates of all unincorporated places. I notice here a reference to lists of unincorporated places that have been integrated into NHGIS data. Is this available for download as an NHGIS product?

We have create a GIS file that shows the location of essentially all incorporated and unincorporated places listed in the published census volumes for 1920. Unfortunately, the GIS file does not differentiate between incorporated and unincorporated places. We simply provide a unique identifier, a state name, state code, and name for each entity. While we don’t provide the latitude/longitude coordinates as attributes in the shapefile, you can access them within GIS or statistical software such as R. The coordinate system for the shapefile is the USA Contiguous Albers Equal Area Conic. If you want the latitude and longitude, you will need to convert the shapefile into a Geographic coordinate system.

You can access the GIS file through the NHGIS data finder through the following steps:

  1. Open the YEARS filter and click the checkbox next to 1920
  2. Click the GIS Files tab in the Select Data Grid
  3. Click the green checkbox next to 1920 Place Points in the select data grid
  4. Then you can complete your request by continuing through the steps.

If you’ve never created an NHGIS extract before, we have video tutorials that show you how to use it.

Dave Van Riper

Thanks @MPC_vanriper ! Just because it may interest someone in the future, after more digging the places in the Place Points shapefile seem to be “incorporated” places only. I’m basing this conclusion off a spot comparison between the shapefile places and the apparently comprehensive list of incorporated places from the state tables in the published and pdf’ed corresponding census volumes here. (E.G. “Table 2: Population of Incorporated Places”). There’s pretty much exact correspondence, although I’m basing this on the 1910 shapefiles and census volumes, not 1920 as in the header.