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Census and ACS Data for GIS

UWM GIS Day - Spring 2021

This workshop will provide an introduction to the US Census and American Community Survey (ACS), discovery and access to data products, and using Census and ACS data in GIS. In addition to the prerequisites below, workshop participants should have at least a beginner level knowledge of GIS technology and be comfortable with downloading files, unzipping .zip archive files, and opening shapefiles in GIS software.

  • A computer with an internet connection, a second monitor or second device to watch the zoom room while you follow along is recommended.

  • A webcam and microphone or headset. There are interactive componenets to the workshop.

  • Desktop GIS Software (ArcGIS Pro recommended, ArcMap or QGIS okay for those with GIS experience)

  • Set up an account at

Click here to view the full setup instructions. Please complete setup before the workshop so we can make the most of our limited timed together.


Photo of the presenter, Stephen Appel

Stephen Appel
Geospatial Information Specialist
American Geographical Society Library
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

Goals of this workshop

  • Learn about the relevant history of the Census and American Community Survey

  • Experiment with data discovery and access using NHGIS

  • Bring tabular and geospatial Census/ACS data into GIS

  • Discuss special considerations for GIS analysis with Census/ACS data

  • Get an update on the latest tools and trends


Time Content
0:00 Introductions
0:03 Land acknowledgement
0:05 Who are we? (Interactive Activity)
0:15 Census and ACS: Past and Present (Presentation)
0:35 A tutorial for the modern map-minded panther (Step-by-step)
1:05 Tools and Trends (Presentation)
1:10 Questions
1:25 Wrap-up (Discussion)

Actual schedule may vary depending on group needs

Workshop Recording

Workshop Slides

Slides will be available on the day of the workshop.

Download Slides