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Don't know much about geography

Don't know much about geography

Published: September 8, 2009 Updated: February 4, 2016

As a librarian dealing with Census data, ;ve found that i-s very important to get a handle on Census geography. Take a look at American Factfinder.

If you select a data set such as the Decennial Census, then go to the Detailed Tables or Quick Tables, you can select from a series of geographies, including Nation, Region (there are four- Midwest, Northeast, South and West), Division (there are nine, including such vaguely defined terms as East South Central and West North Central), State, County, and County Subdivision, and several others. County subdivisions include different terms such as towns, townships, boroughs and cities.

So how do you figure out what states are considered the East South Central Division? For that, when given the opportunity on the American Factfinder data set to Select a Geography, go to the tab on the top right: Geo within Geo. You can find all the places within a county, or all the block groups in a place, counties in a Metropolitan Area, ZIP Codes in a Congressional District, or any of those designations that come up naturally (states in the country, counties in the state, county subdivisions in the county). So, East South Central is Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi; West North Central is Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and the Dakotas.

Beats the heck out of trying to find all the places in Westchester County, New York on a map, which I once tried to do.

I suggest doing this process on the Decennial data, because Census only reports those geographies for which it has statistics. So, for instance, the 2005-2007 American Community Surveys will not cover geographies smaller than 20,000 or ZIP Codes, regardless of size.

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