Social Explorer Help
Welcome to the Social Explorer Help System.
Social Explorer is a detailed reference tool for current and historical Census data from 1790 to the present. Our tools allow you to explore Census data visually through the use of interactive data maps. You can also browse and download Census data in convenient formats for offline processing.
You can explore the data through interactive thematic maps of 210 years of Census data, then, depending on your research interests, you can create reports to see numbers and percent breakdowns. Alternatively, you can go directly to our reports section and choose the data you wish to view or download. Social Explorer also allows you to create and export animated map slideshows, which are very convenient for viewing data over time and making presentations.
Getting Started — Map basics:
Advantages of Social Explorer
- Social Explorer provides historical census data that is hard to obtain or requires extensive processing to make use of. This is particularly true of the 1790 through 1980 data sets. The Census Bureau provides 1990 and 2000 but the visualization tools are limited, there are no percent breakdowns and download for offline processing is somewhat cumbersome. For anything earlier than 1990 it gets even more complicated. For example, to get Census tracts for 1980, one must combine pieces of tracts, which are split by the Places geographic level, and keep track of suppression flags at the same time (this, in effect, turns into partial suppression). For 1970, things get even worse. There are suppression flags built into the data sets (-1 and -2 are used as suppression flags throughout), so aggregation becomes more difficult. We have extracted and preserved these suppression flags and normalized the data so it can be aggregated. We have also created universe and sub-universe variables for all data sets. We have spent years processing these historical data to make it easy to use for you.
- Social Explorer provides easy to use tools for visual exploration of Census data: maps and reports. With these interactive online tools, you can visually explore change over time, and download the data of your interest for offline processing, as many researchers do across the country.
Accessing Social Explorer
Social Explorer provides two levels of access.
- Public Edition: Free of charge and contains a limited number of maps and reports/data for Census 2000 only.
- Subscription edition which has an annual fee, depending on the type and size of institution or business. This is our full edition with access to all maps, reports and data.
For a list of available data, please click here.
For documentation on each survey click here
Some of the material in these additional resources is a bit out of date, but most of it is still relevant: