The Census Bureau has terminated its American FactFinder database, which provided free access to certain Census datasets. FactFinder was replaced by data.census.gov, but it's important to know that the data available there is limited and includes nothing for years prior to 2000.
Social Explorer is a subscription database that the library pays for. It offers access to more comprehensive Census data, including data back to 1790. This database is also (in my opinion) much easier to use than data.census.gov, so I recommend that you start with Social Explorer to find Census/demographic data.
Important information about the Social Explorer database:
You can use Social Explorer to run reports on geographic areas as small as Census block groups. Social Explorer can also help you identify Census tracts back to 1950.
To access the database from off-campus, you will need to have your computer configured to use the UCSD VPN. If you need help with that, please refer to the remote access instructions. Note that you MUST select 2-Step Secured - Allthruucsd from the "Group" drop-down menu when authenticating. If you're correctly connected via the VPN, you should see the UC San Diego notation below in the banner on Social Explorer's home page.
Note: I've heard some students are having trouble access Social Explorer, and we're trying to figure out what the problem is. If you are unable to access the database, please go to our troubleshooting page and click the wiley.com link under "Testing your configuration." Finding out if you are able to access the full text article (17 pages) there will help us in figuring out if the problem is with Social Explorer or with your VPN setup.
To identify tracts:
1. Click on “Explore” under the United States map.
2. Drill down to the area of interest. You can use the top "search address" box, double click on an area, or use the zoom + to drill down to your area. (Click and drag map to re-center.) As you zoom in, you’ll eventually see details like street names. As you mouse over an area, you'll see popups that identify the Census tract numbers. Use Google maps or print maps as necessary to help identify streets, if necessary.
3. To see map for a different year, click the "Change Data" button on the top left (this is the default search). Slide the blue scale to the desired year, click "population" and then "population density per sq. mile." Repeat step 2 above.
To get data:
(And again, remember that tract-level data is not available for ACS 1-year or 3-year estimates.)
There are two ways to get Census data after you've identified the census tracts.
First option: while you're still on the map showing the tracts of interest >
Second option, which I find much easier: after you have identified the tract numbers, you could elect to quit the mapping application >
Reminder: the Census Bureau's Index of Questions can be extremely helpful in figuring out what questions were asked on each census and therefore what data might be available.