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