Great Plains Population and Environment Database

The Great Plains Population and Environment Database is a comprehensive tool that has put volumes of historical records into a searchable, workable database. It was created by researchers at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin and Colorado State University in the late 1990s. Myron P. Gutmann, Sara M. Pullum, and Geoff Cunfer designed the instrument for use in a variety of research fields.

The database aims to describe the long-term relationship between population, land use, and the environment in some 450 counties of the Great Plains. Data are drawn from historical censuses of population and agriculture, historical and contemporary weather records, and other socioeconomic, spatial, and environmental sources such as the US Department of Agriculture and the US Bureau of the Census. These data have been collected roughly every five years from 1870 to the present. Nearly 1000 variables include agricultural statistics (e.g. crop and livestock parameters, farm tenancy), population figures (e.g. occupation, ethnicity, age distribution, religion), and environmental data (e.g. precipitation, temperature, elevation).

Using database or spreadsheet software, researchers can access data by selecting the desired variables, years, and counties. Then data can be analyzed statistically or mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software.

The database currently includes information for all of the counties in ten states: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana. The project is currently adding data for all of the counties in Minnesota and Iowa, which will provide comparative data for the tallgrass prairie and corn belt region of the grassland. The Minnesota-Iowa addition is organized by Geoff Cunfer and Dennis Guse at Southwest State University. By the end of summer 2001, data for all twelve states will be available to the public for downloading from a project web site.

For more information view the Great Plains Population and Environment web page.
Requests for data may be directed to:

Myron P. Gutmann
Great Plains Research Project / ICPSR
The University of Michigan
P.O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248 U.S.A.

Geoff Cunfer
Center for Rural and Regional Studies
Southwest State University
Marshall, Minnesota, 56258

Science and Technology 203
Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State Street Marshall, MN 56258
Phone: (507) 537-6226
Fax: (507) 537-6147

Last updated: March 21, 2006