“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources Ray C. Walling


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“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources

  • Ray C. Walling

  • Government Documents Intern

  • Numeric and Spatial Data Intern


Resource Demonstration

  • Today we will discuss online resources that might help you answer census related reference questions.

  • Resources to be discussed include:



For those participating, you can go to the following web page for links to the resources being discussed:

  • Government Documents Center Website:

  • http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/hiscenpub.html







Can I help you?



I need to find a statistic/map for…



Where do I go from here?

  • Break the question down into facets

  • What resource meets the criteria:

    • Map vs. Statistic
    • Coverage of Decades
    • Coverage of Geographies
    • Coverage of Topics
    • Ability to do complex searches
    • Speed


“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources

  • Part I: Statistical Search



I’m looking for…

  • “I’m looking for recent information on the number of people by age and sex for census tracts of Flint, MI. Can you help me?”

  • – Student Question in Early June



Breaking Down the Question

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 2000
    • Geography
      • Census Tracts of Flint, MI
    • Question Topic(s)
      • Age by sex
  • Try: American FactFinder, Social Explorer, or NHGIS



American FactFinder

  • Website: http://www.factfinder.census.gov

  • Coverage

    • Decades: 1990 and 2000
    • Geographies: Detailed
  • Other Qualities

    • Creates detailed maps
    • Capable of very complex queries
    • Average Speed


American FactFinder

  • Summary Files (page 2-3)

  • Many ways to download information

  • Census glossary available

  • Also provides the: American Community Survey, Puerto Rico Community Survey, Annual Population Estimates, Economic Census, and the Annual Economic Surveys

















Social Explorer

  • Website: http://socialexplorer.com

  • Coverage

    • Decades: 1940-2000
    • Geographies: US, State, County, Census Tract, (2000 Congressional Districts)
  • Other Qualities

    • Can create maps quickly
    • Not able to create queries
    • Quick in general


Social Explorer

  • Problems

    • Public version has gaps in coverage
    • Pre-defined variables are not always consistent over decades and in representation
    • Only downloadable in MS Excel












NHGIS

  • Website: http://www.nhgis.org/

  • Coverage

    • Decades: 1790-2000
    • Geographies to 1900: US, State, County
    • Geographies 1910 onward: Detailed
  • Other Qualities

  • Many ways to download information























Excuse Me…

  • “Excuse me, can you help me find the population of Chatam County, GA around 1790?”



Breaking Down the Question

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 1790
      • Excludes: American FactFinder, Social Explorer
    • Geography
      • Chatam County
    • Question Topic
      • Population
    • Speed
      • Quick
      • Excludes: NHGIS
  • Try: Historical Census Browser



Historical Census Browser

  • Website: http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus/

  • Coverage

    • Decades: 1790-1960
    • Geographies: State, County
  • Other Qualities

    • No U.S. totals
    • Quick, low quality maps
    • Quickest of the online services
    • Quick comparison over the decades
    • Not for complex queries, limited data










Excuse Me…

  • “Can you compare this data from 1790 through 1860?”









“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources

  • Part II: Maps



Excuse Me…

  • “Can you help me find a way to compare the population in Chatam County, GA to the other counties of the state for 1790?”



Breaking Down the Question

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 1790
      • Excludes: American FactFinder, Social Explorer
    • Geography
      • Chatam County
    • Question Topic
      • Population
    • Type of Data
      • Map for easy comparison across the state
  • Try: Historical Census Browser







HELP……………………………..

  • “I have a presentation at 2pm and need a map showing the number of people of Hispanic origin in Chester County, PA in 2000.”



Breaking Down the Question

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 2000
      • Excludes: Historical Census Browser
    • Geography
      • Chester County, PA
    • Question Topic
      • Hispanic Origin
  • Try: Social Explorer









HELP……………………………..

  • “Can you provide a comparison map to 1990?”





Find me…..

  • “Find me a map of the median age of the population of counties within Michigan for 2000. I have to be somewhere in 10 minutes.”



Breaking Down the Question

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 2000
      • Excludes: Historical Census Browser
    • Geography
      • State: Michigan
    • Question Topic
      • Median Age
  • Try: American FactFinder













“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources

  • Part III: Guided Practice



Sample Question #1

  • “I work for La Comunidad Hispania of Kennett Square (borough), PA and want to find out average family size of Hispanic families vs. the community average for 2000.”



Selecting the online resource

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 2000
      • Excludes: Historical Census Browser
    • Geography
    • Topic
      • Family size by race (complex)
      • Exclude: Social Explorer
  • Try: American FactFinder (Summary File 2)



Sample Question #2

  • “I want to trace the decline of slavery in Pennsylvania after the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 until the Civil War (1860).”



Selecting the online resource

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 1790-1860
      • Excludes: American FactFinder, Social Explorer
    • Geography
    • Question Topic(s)
      • Slavery
    • Type of Info Needed
      • Statistic (over time)
      • Probably Exclude NHGIS
  • Try: Historical Census Browser



Sample Question #3

  • “I am trying to figure out the areas of the continental United States with the most number of people without education in 1940”



Selecting the online resource

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 1940
      • Excludes: American FactFinder
    • Geography
    • Question Topic(s)
      • Education
  • Try: Social Explorer



Sample Question #4

  • “What was the estimated number of volumes that the University of Michigan Libraries had in 1850?”



Selecting the online resource

  • Break down the question

    • Decade
      • 1850
      • Excludes: American FactFinder, Social Explorer
    • Geography
      • University of Michigan
      • Intuitive: Since limited number of universities/colleges in 1850, probably can find it by a larger geographic group.
    • Question Topic(s)
      • Education>College>Libraries
  • Try: NHGIS (or Historical Census Browser)





“I’m looking for…” Answers with Census Resources

  • Any Other Questions?




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