Historical census info

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Thanks to Dale, I'm suddenly aware of the National Historical Geographic Information System, from the University of Minnesota. NHGIS hosts census data back to 1790! (An admission of mindlessness: I pulled up 1790 as a test and for a moment thought they only had partial census data, since Michigan wasn't listed. D'oh.)

Now I just need to restrain myself to looking up only the data I actually need, and not geeking out into semirandom data dumps.

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NHGIS is awesome

The census itself is digitizing a lot of their old data, but nhgis makes it easily available, combining it with digitization from scholars and research centers in other places.

Being able to look at several censuses at once easily really illustrates the changes decade-to-decade in the way data was collected. At times these can be dramatic and at times annoying (don't get me started on "contract rent" and "gross monthly rent.")


I don't know if you've ever done any geneological research, but with Ancestry.com you see scans of most of the original recordings. The 1790 Census of Michigan...funny stuff.