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The Statistical Abstract of the United States now available through ProQuest

May 13, 2013

When the U.S. Census Bureau announced in March 2011 it would no longer produce the Statistical Abstract of the United States, after publishing it annually for 134 years, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among library workers and journalists.  Library associations issued statements and urged their members to contact members of Congress about the issue.  Newspapers as diverse as the Washington Post, Toronto Star, and Roanoke (Va) Times published columns and editorials railing against the Census Bureau’s decision.  A group of library staff at George Washington University created a “Save the Statistical Abstract” video, which demonstrates the wide variety of practical, interesting information that StatAbs held:

Click the screenshot to watch the whole video on Vimeo

Though the Census Bureau ultimately dropped this title, citing budgetary reasons, students, researchers, journalists and lovers of trivia can rest easy: commercial publisher ProQuest has taken up the challenge of continuing this venerable work.  In the process, ProQuest has created a more versatile online product than the Census Bureau was able to provide.  (Bernan Press has also published a print version based on the ProQuest product.)

In creating this new edition, ProQuest updated nearly all the tables in the 2012 edition (a few tables couldn’t be updated because new data had not been published), and plans to update selected tables throughout the year.  ProQuest used the same sources that the Census Bureau did to create tables.  These sources include national and international governmental agencies, as well as many private associations.  As in the Census Bureau’s version, the ProQuest version points users to these sources, so users can see if more detailed data is available from those original sources.

In recent years, the Census Bureau had maintained electronic versions of the Abstract, but users had to decide whether to search a PDF version OR an Excel spreadsheet one.  ProQuest’s interface allows users to search the entire publication, then choose whether to view a table in PDF or Excel format.  Users can also break down results by time period covered, source of data, geographic level the data is presented at, or whether the tables break down data by such factors as age, race, or gender.  Every table includes a citation in APA and MLA formats.

And what content will you find in this Statistical Abstract?  The same eclectic mix as in the preceding versions:  over 1,400 tables on 30 broad topics, from health and nutrition, to arts, travel, and recreation; education to transportation.  A sampling of tables available:

  • Percent Of Adults Who Own Electronic Devices By Age
  • Persons With And Without Health Insurance Coverage By State
  • Households And Persons Having Problems With Access To Food
  • Top States And Cities Visited By Overseas Travelers
  • U.S. Firms–Ownership By Gender, Ethnicity, Race, And Veteran Status
  • Vote Cast For U.S. Representatives By Major Political Party–Congressional Districts
  • Sales And Household Participation In Lawn And Garden Activities

Many thanks to Government Documents and Reference Librarian Beth Harper for providing this write-up! 

If you have library news, press releases, event announcements, or resource profiles to share, please send an e-mail to news@library.wisc.edu.