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EDPY 262 - Community-Based Research Methods: Census Data

Census Data

Create a demographic report on your area

A demographic report will tell you the characteristics of the people who live in your community of interest.

In Social Explorer, click on the Explorer button under "United States."

Once you're at the map, you can either zoom in on the area of interest, or search for an address. When you've zoomed in, you will see the map divided into census tracts; these are geographic units created by the Census Bureau, each of which contains about 4,000 residents. You can think of them roughly as neighborhoods, though of course the physical area varies by population density; cities will have small tracts, rural areas will have larger ones.

To create a report, click on the hamburger menu in the upper left and select Create Report.

Now you can change the geographic unit by clicking on the drop-down menu where it says Geography Census Tract.

If you are studying a city, "Census Place" is the most appropriate, but County or MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) might be useful. UNSD signifies unified school district. Once you've selected the type of geography, you can click on the map the place, county, etc. that you want a report on, then select the topic for your report, then click on Create Report.

Make a map illustrating variation in your area of interest

In the map view, zoom in on the area of interest. Click on the Change Data button in the upper left to select the year and topic to map. You can choose a topic that is relevant to your project. Under the drop down menu that says "by," expand the menu and turn off the Automatic button, then select the geographic unit you want. You can change the way the data are visualized by clicking the button to the right, "as Shaded Area." 

Click on Export in the upper right to create an image file of your map.

School Data

Find characteristics of an area school

ELSI is different from Social Explorer in that it has data by school, including demographics of the students at a school, rather than the entire population of a given city, county, etc.

In ELSI, click on "Begin" in the tableGenerator button. 

Select a Table Row: Choose Public School or District, as appropriate for your project.

Select Years: Select most recent year.

Select Table Columns: These are the kinds of information you can retrieve about a school. Most of the interesting options are under Enrollments, where you have demographic information about the student. You can select more than one.

Select Filters: This is where you select the school or school district you are interested in. If you don't filter, you will get all schools or districts, which would not be ideal. Select the button for Agency Name or School Name, depending on whether your table is for a District or Public School. Change the radio button to Filter, then type in the school or school district to select.

Then click Create Table.

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Christine Murray
Ladd Library 132
(207) 786-6268

I am usually at the Research Desk Mon. 10-1, Tues. 6-9, and Thurs. 1-4