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Access, use, and reproduction of the electronic resources made available through the Grinnell College Libraries are governed by license agreements with publishers which may impose greater restrictions on use than does copyright law. The user is responsible for observing these agreements as well as the copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), including the fair use guidelines that protect scholarship and research.

When accessing subscription databases from off-campus, you will be asked to sign in using your campus username and password. If you have any problems accessing library resources from off campus, please contact Rebecca Ciota or Tony Lewis.


Digital Sanborn Maps 1867–1970 (Iowa) Restricted Resource
Sanborn fire-insurance maps are large-scale plans used to estimate the potential risk for urban structures, and include information such as outlines of buildings; the size, shape, and construction materials used; and location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, property boundaries, house and block numbers, and various other data. They are useful for historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, environmentalists, and anyone who wants to learn about the history and development of Iowa municipalities.


General Sources - U.S.

Iowa Geographic Map Server
Complete coverage of Iowa in aerial orthophotos, land use/land cover maps, DEMs, historical data.
USGS Seamless Data Warehouse
High-quality, geospatial data from the USGS. Mostly US data, some international data. Transportation, boundary files, hydrography, orthoimagery, land cover, elevation. Interactive map server and downloadable data.
National Map
U.S. biology, geology, demography, environmental, water and much more. Interactive map server and downloadable data. Resource contains quantitative data
Searchable catalog of data, including shapefiles and other geographic data, available from the U.S. federal government.
The National Historical Geographic Information System. Provides "aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2000." Free registration required.
American Factfinder Resource contains quantitative data
Statistics and aggregate data from the U.S. Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Puerto Rico Community Survey, Annual Population Estimates, Economic Census, and Annual Economic Surveys. Data for geographic areas, sometimes down to the block level, can be downloaded in CSV or XLS formats.

General Sources - World

ArcGIS Online
ESRI's data clearinghouse and map services; contains mostly base data; you can also link to this data directly through ArcCatalog.
Canada GeoGratis
Free, downloadable Canadian GIS data.
CloudMade Data
Spatial data in a variety of formats from OpenStreetMap.
David Rumsey Map Collection
Database of high-resolution historical maps, some of which are georeferenced.
Search and download satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and other products from the USGS. Primarily raster layers.
Download shapefiles for every country in the world. Available layers include administrative boundaries, inland water, roads, railroads, elevation, land cover, population, and climate. Georeferencing gazetteers are also available.
ICPSR Resource contains quantitative data
The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) maintains and provides access to the world's largest archive of raw data sets in the social sciences. Before downloading data, you will be prompted to create a MyData account. You must be on campus to create this account. As long as you log in to your MyData account from an on-campus computer at least every 6 months, you will also be able to download data while you are off campus.

Demographic/Population - U.S.

Census Bureau Geography
Geographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Includes the TIGER files.
National Center for Health Statistics Resource contains quantitative data
Maintained by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Much data is available at the state and county level. Data is in spreadsheets, not GIS layers.
Social Explorer Restricted Resource Resource contains quantitative data
Pre-processed, searchable, and mappable demographic data.
Grinnell College Libraries Guide to Finding Statistics and Data Sets
Many more sources for geospatial data about the United States can be found here.

Demographic/Population - World

Digital Atlas of American Religion
From Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis.
Gridded Population of the World
Estimates of global population and other socioeconomic variables at a fine spatial scale.
Unique maps of socioeconomic variables at global scale.

Environment and Climate

Global Change Master Directory
Over 25,000 data sets on the environment and Earth science, curated by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Iowa Environmental Mesonet (IEM) Resource contains quantitative data
1893-present. Historical weather data for several dozen Iowa locations.
Iowa Geodata
Downloadable spatial data from Iowa government agencies, primarily the Department of Natural Resources.
Mineral Resources Data System
Spacial data on mineral resources from the USGS.
National Centers for Environmental Information
Formerly the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). Maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Includes bathymetry and other marine data, natural hazards, and geomagnetic data.
USDA NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway
From the National Resources Conservation Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural and environmental data for the U.S.
GIS layers for climate data, with a resolution of one square kilometer.
FAO GeoNetwork
A global database of information related to agriculture, including land use, forestry, fisheries, and much more. Created by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Data can be mapped online or downloaded for use in desktop GIS programs.
Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Excellent source for data and GIS layers on global development issues.

Historical Data

Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations
GIS files from Harvard University.


Gap Analysis Program Resource contains quantitative data
Land cover, predicted distribution for common vertibrate species, and land ownership/stewardship information for the entire United States.
Data on the geographic distribution of amphibians and reptiles.
Ocean Biogeographic Information System
Data on the geographic distribution of over 100,000 ocean-dwelling species.

Non-georeferenced Maps

Iowa Maps Digital Collection
High-resolution historical maps of Iowa. Maps can be downloaded.
Perry-Castaneda Library Maps
An outstanding collection of historical and contemporary maps held by the University of Texas at Austin Perry-Castaneda Library

Web-Based GIS/Interactive Map Tools

Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
Thematic maps of health care indicators in the U.S.
Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool
Formerly Environmental Justice Geographic Assessment Tool. From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For research on local toxic sites.
Food Access Research Atlas
Formerly the Food Desert Locator. From the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.
Social Explorer Restricted Resource Resource contains quantitative data
Provides access to current and historical census data and demographic information, as well as economic data, crime data, environmental data, and more. Users can create maps and reports to illustrate, analyze, and understand demography and other social changes. Most data is for the U.S., but some data on Canada and European countries is also available.
Terraserver USA
Quick access to aerial photographs and topographic maps from Microsoft Research Maps and the USGS.
Gapminder Resource contains quantitative data
Interactive display of quantitative data.
Key to Icons

Restricted Resource = Restricted resource
Resource contains images = Images
Resource contains video = Video files
Resource contains audio = Audio files
= Scholarly articles
Resource contains quantitative data = Quantitative data
Resource contains newspapers = Newspapers
Resource is highly recommended = Highly recommended

Subject Specialist
Picture: Julia Bauder

Julia Bauder
Social Studies and Data Services Librarian
Tel: 641-269 4431

Don't Forget the Catalog!
Many printed maps and geographic data sets can be found in the library catalog. Try including "maps" or "statistics", plus the name of the area in which you are interested, in your search.
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