I am currently working on a project where I am responsible for calculating the mean temperature and precipitation data across the USA.

My calculations are made for metro census data and county census data and it would be greate for me to add some information about population in those areas. The problem is that I can't find any data for metro areas that are older than 1970 and I need to have a data from 1950.

I am wondering if there is some dataset with demographic data on metro or county level that will have an information about population starting from 1950 or even older?

  • This may be better researched/asked at the Open Data Stack Exchange.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) might be worth looking at. They have made available aggregate US census data and GIS-compatible boundary files.


For metro data you would likely need to create a new shapefile and manually input the data for your cities. You can find historical city populations out there but I'm not sure if it's the most practical idea to use it. You should focus on using counties.


That is a link to historical US state and county populations. The tables are organized by state and year, so it should be fairly easy to clean up the data to prepare it for a join to a US county shapefile. Once joined, you'll have the data you need to work with.

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