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Michigan State University

Finding Census Tract Data: Social Explorer

Social Explorer

Social Explorer provides census data from 1790 to the present. No password is necessary, except for off-campus use you'll be prompted for your MSU NetID and password. 

Video (new Nov 13, 2017): Retrieving data from the 1980 Census data, finding hidden tables, edit Excel table.

Video (new Nov 20, 2017): Making a custom map in Social Explorer

Video: Making a basic table in Social Explorer


Video: Determining which tracts were within the city in 1960 (3:21)

Screen Shots:


The map function will allow you to see certain census variables along with the Census Tract Numbers.  One main difference between Social Explorer and American Factfinder is that American Factfinder only provides detailed data for 2000 and newer.  Social Explorer provides historical data, but does not provide the full depth of census data.  It also does not show the city boundaries.



Once you know which Tract Numbers you need, you can go to the "Reports" tab and specify your tracts and which data you want to see.

Social Explorer 1960 Race Lake County Indiana

The table may be downloaded in Excel format.

Subject Guide

Kathleen Weessies's picture
Kathleen Weessies
Geosciences Librarian; Social Sciences Coordinator; Head, Map Library
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive E240
Subjects:Geography, Geology
Michigan State University