I'm trying to to read the 2010 Census data so that I can link some of my research data to geographic information. Ideally I would like to use census tract data and other covariates.

I've downloaded the 2010 SF1 files for the relevant states, but my issue lies in understanding what the text files mean. I use R, but getting the data into R is not a problem (because they're comma-separated). I'm prepared to do massive amounts of data management before I can use the data, but I need simple things... like row and column names. For example, what is:


from the tn000032010.sf1 file?

Where can I find a key that indexes each value in the vector to tell me what it means?

Or even, is there a list of possible variables (and the way the data is coded) so that I can use API to subset desired data?

I've read the README and spend a few hours going through the 500+ page documentation.

closed as too broad by PolyGeo Mar 28 at 10:46

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    The header row is stored as a separate table. Fields are listed on page 18 of this pdf. The Census Access tutorial linked below is the 2000 version - for the 2010 version (which is a bit more graphical) you can visit this pdf. – Chris W Jul 15 '14 at 18:32

So, the census has a template mdb file that is used for importing their sf1 data into... but if you want an open source route here is a post about using postgres to format the data: http://sproke.blogspot.com/2012/01/importing-2010-sf1-census-in-postgresql.html

And if you want to use access, there is that approach: http://www.census.gov/support/cen2000_sf1_ascii.html#msAccess


Field Mapping begins on page 2-8. Look at the "Data Dictionary Reference", field size, and starting position. Should give you a template for your files.

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