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Live and recorded classes led by Census Bureau instructors on a variety of topics.

How to Access 2020 Census Redistricting Data Files from the Census Bureau’s FTP Site

Developed and presented by Mary Leisenring and Alexandra Barker.

Skill Level:

  • Beginner (Lessons 1-3)
  • Advanced (Lessons 4-8)

Duration: 1 hour


In this all-level course, you will learn the basics about the Decennial Census, the Redistricting Data Program, Public Law 94-171 redistricting data, geographic availability, and the legacy format. We then demonstrate how to set up a database, download and extract redistricting data in the legacy format, using prototype data in Microsoft Access as an example. Redistricting data are released for the purpose of redrawing legislative and electoral district boundaries. These data are the first demographic and housing 2020 Decennial Census data available down to the block summary level geography.

Who Should Take This Course?

Redistricting Program managers and staff, data analysts, data scientists, media and data users who wish to learn more about how to access and use Redistricting data from the 2020 Census.


Mary Leisenring
U.S. Census Bureau

Alexandra Barker
U.S. Census Bureau

Course Documents



Beginning of Course



Lesson 1: What is Redistricting? The 2020 Census and the Redistricting Data Program

Learn brief background information on the 2020 Census, how it relates to redistricting, and the purpose of the Redistricting Data Program. Then we review the five phases of the Redistricting Data Program to provide an understanding of how the Census Bureau complies with Public Law 94-171 to provide the data they needed to perform redistricting.

Lesson 2: Understanding the Data. What are the P.L. 94-171 Data Files, Topics, and Geographies?

By the end of this lesson, you will understand what data is available in the redistricting data files. We will go over the subjects (or topics) in detail and list the available geographies and geographic support products. Discover the uses for redistricting data by state and local governments as well as other potential uses for redistricting data.

Lesson 3: Data Resources

To wrap up Part 1 of this course, you will learn where to get more information and about additional sources for accessing redistricting data. You will also learn about the software and hardware you may need to complete your analysis of data.

Lesson 4: Accessing the Data

In this lesson, you will learn where to find the complete P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data Files for all states, ready for download. You will also learn about the critical resources available to help you in successfully accessing and using these data. Last, you learn about the Prototype Data – Legacy Summary File (2020 Style) that will be used for a demonstration in this course.

Lesson 5: Downloading the Files

In this lesson, you will learn two critical steps:

  1. How to download the Redistricting Data Files and the Microsoft Access Database shell.
  2. How to get your files ready to be imported into the database.

Lesson 6: Importing to Build Your Database

In this lesson, we will demonstrate step-by-step how to import the Redistricting Data Files to build your database.

Lesson 7: Using Queries to Extract the Data

In this lesson, we will demonstrate how to extract the Redistricting Data Files using the pre-created queries. You will also learn how to customize the queries to extract data for different geographies and topics. Last, we will show you how to export the data.

Lesson 8: Setting Up for Analysis

In this lesson, we help you get ready to analyze your data. We will go over some critical elements of your table and share some tips about how to work with the metadata and how to create a simple data visualization.

Congratulations! You finished the course!

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I just finished the How to Access 2020 Census Redistricting Data Files from the Census Bureau’s FTP Site Course with Census Academy! Be sure to check out their free resources! 

#CensusBureau #CensusAcademy #2020Census #Redistricting #Apportionment

Page Last Revised - October 20, 2022
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