I am having issues using the advanced search on the American Fact Finder to download census block data for a whole state at a time. The best option that it gives me, when trying any route, is to select geographies of all census block groups within a county within a state. This leaves me with the option then of selecting every county, but in some states (like Texas) that have more than 250 counties, I am out of luck with this method.

Does anyone have a solution for this?

To duplicate my error:

  • Visit http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
  • Then select Advanced Search,
  • Then select on the left "Geographies",
  • Then select "all geographic types" radial button,
  • Then in the dropdown, select Block Group or part,
  • Then select state in the next drop down, and you will start to see the issue.

Also, if instead of using the list search and you use the tab that says "name" I run into the same issue.

Does anyone have any experience with American Fact Finder downloads?

I am not asking the same question here as I am looking to see if this is possible just by accessing AFF not their ftp. Gathering data for large number of census block groups?

  • What data are you looking to download? If you are interested in ACS data, then AFF won't be able to help you. If it is Decennial Census data, then you might be in business.
    – Kotebiya
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 16:12
  • Basically urban/rural counts, from the last census. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 17:08

4 Answers 4


Try NHGIS, which allows you to get blocks for all states.

Set the filters aenter image description heres I have done in the attached screen shot.


Deep linking is a beautiful thing that fulfills this need exceptionally. For instance, do you want the Urban/Rural status of the population by Block Group (aka Table P2)? Well, just build some links to them. Admittedly, you'll have to build a few links though (e.g. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 ). I built those links to pull all block groups by state among many states per link. They only issue was that I had to observe a record limit of 50,000 so the approximate 220,000 Block Groups had to be broken up into 5 links.

FYI: If you want to build different tables, just change the P2 in each of the links to match some other 2010 Decennial Census SF1 Table.


In the Select Geographies window that comes up, try the Name tab instead of the List tab. Adjust the geography filter options (e.g., "Block Group" within state "Alabama" in the image below) and it will provide you with a list of results.

Select all the "All Block Groups within Whatever County" geographies using the "Check All" box and it is much faster than selecting individual block groups one at a time through the List tab.

enter image description here

  • Yes, but my issue is if I am trying to select all of the block groups from the state of Texas, there are more counties than it will allow me to select. I am bothered that there isn't just simply an "All Block Groups within Texas" or something. I appreciate your reply though. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 17:09
  • Unfortunately, there are limits put into place that cap how much data you can download through the AFF interface at once. Breaking Texas into two steps would be the only way around it. (For what little it is worth, Texas should be the only state that exceeds the 250 limit -- the next highest is Georgia with 159.)
    – Erica
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 17:12

There is actually a simpler way to do this, using the AFF Download Center.

In here, if you know the table you are looking for, follow the prompts and it will allow you to download all block groups in a state.

Additional reading here: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/programs-surveys/acs/guidance/training-presentations/2016_BlockGroups_Transcript_01.pdf

Especially, the part where it says:

Note: the AFF Download Center is the only place you can download All Blocks Groups within a State. In Advanced Search, the largest geography you can download is All Block Groups within a County.

That way, you can download tables that aren't on NHGIS just yet. Hope this helps!

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