The National Historical Geographic Information System

Pétra Noble, University of Minnesota
Catherine A. Fitch, University of Minnesota

The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) is designed to make the rich body of aggregate census data accessible within a GIS framework for historical population research. The five-year project began in April 2001 with funding from the National Science Foundation Social Science Infrastructure Program. The goals were to gather together all surviving census data from 1790 to 2000; format them consistently; develop comprehensive standardized machine-readable documentation; create high-precision historical electronic boundary files describing census tracts and counties; and develop innovative web-based tools for disseminating both microdata and metadata over the Internet. As we reach the conclusion of this phase of the project we would like to illustrate what we have been done to achieve these goals, highlight research that has been conducted as a result of NHGIS, demonstrate the data access system (available at, and discuss the next steps for the project.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design