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

The Comprehensive Course for Accessing 2020 Census Redistricting Data

Explore and learn the different methods to access P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data.

Developed and presented by Mary Leisenring and Alexandra Barker in collaboration with the Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation, Geography Division, Population Division, and the Redistricting Data Program.

Skill Level:

  • Beginner (Lessons 1-3, 9, 10)
  • Advanced (Lessons 4-8, 11-12)


  • Part 1 - 37 minutes (Introduction, Lessons 1-3)
  • Part 2 - 10-20 min for each pathway


This all-level course will teach you the basics about the Decennial Census, the Redistricting Data Program, Public Law 94-171 redistricting data, geographic availability, and the legacy format. You will then learn about the available sources to access these data and the features of each source. 

Part 2 will demonstrate how to find and access 2020 Census Redistricting Data. Select one or more learning pathways (1-4) to learn how to access data from the Census File Transfer Protocol (FTP), data visualizations, data.census.gov, and the Census Application Programming Interface (API).

Redistricting data are released for the purpose of redrawing legislative and electoral district boundaries but are often interesting and valuable to researchers, academics, and more. 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.

Course Materials



Beginning of Course



Course Introduction

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 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 2020 Census 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: Ways to Access Redistricting Data

To wrap up Part 1 of this course, we will discuss the methods and formats for accessing redistricting data to help you understand what method or format supports your needs. This Couse will also touch on do’s and don’ts for comparing 2010 and 2020 Decennial Census data. We will also share information about resources, including the software and hardware you may need to complete your data analysis.



Continue this course by choosing a pathway below.



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 successfully access and use these data. Last, you learn about the Prototype Data – Legacy Summary File (2020 Style) used for demonstration in this course.

Lesson 5: Downloading the Files

In this lesson, you will learn two critical steps:

  • How to download the Redistricting Data Files and the Microsoft Access Database shell.
  • 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 working with the metadata and creating a simple data visualization.

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Lesson 9: Using Interactive Data Visualization

Data Visualizations are a great way to easily find statistics and identify trends. This lesson will introduce several visualizations that will help you visualize 2020 Census data for your state and county. You will learn about the features of each visualization which focus on a variety of topics such as population, race, Hispanic origin, age, housing, diversity, and group quarters.

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Lesson 10: Accessing 2020 Census Redistricting Data on data.census.gov

The Census Bureau released 2020 P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data through data.census.gov, the Census Bureau's main dissemination platform, in September of 2021. In this lesson, we show you various examples of how to access Redistricting Data tables (ex. housing population counts), apply filters to find a geography (ex. block-level), customize tables, view maps, visualize data, compare Decennial Census data, and more. We also cover features available on data.census.gov, to help make your data search easier and more efficient.  

For more guidance on how to use data.census.gov, the Microdata Access tool, or the Census API, please visit our resources page: https://www.census.gov/data/what-is-data-census-gov.html

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Lesson 11: Accessing 2020 Census Redistricting Data Through the Census Data API: Single Estimates

The Census API allows data users to extract cell-level data to create their own data products such as mobile or web applications and dashboards. In this lesson, you will learn core concepts needed to extract 2020 P.L. 94-171 redistricting data. We will then demonstrate how to pull 2020 Redistricting Data for a single estimate. 

Access the Census Reference Files: https://www.census.gov/geographies/reference-files.html

Lesson 12: Accessing 2020 Census Redistricting Data Through the Census Data API: Tables and Group Calls

Further your knowledge about how to make a 2020 Census redistricting data API call by modifying an existing API call to include a group call. In this lesson, we construct a group call for all congressional districts in a state.     

Access the Census Reference Files: https://www.census.gov/geographies/reference-files.html

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Page Last Revised - September 12, 2022
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