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Boatwright Memorial Library

Social Sciences Librarian

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Kyle Jenkins


Boatwright Library, Room #183

261 Richmond Way
Richmond, VA 23173

Social Explorer

Getting Started with Social Explorer

Using Social Explorer

Welcome to Social Explorer! You can access Social Explorer through the Library A-Z page or via the attached link. 

The library has licensed access to increase the amount of features available. So make sure you are using the University of Richmond edition! To confirm you are in the right edition, make sure you see the logo "Professional plan provided by the University of Richmond".

Getting Started

Using Social Explorer

  1. To begin, choose EXPLORE in the middle of the screen
  2. You'll see a default map of the United States
  3. Use the search box to search for a place by name. Try Searching "Richmond, Virginia"
  4. Pull down Show Data By and change it to your geography (county, place, census tract, etc.). For more information on geographies, see the next tab entitled "FINDING YOUR GEOGRAPHIES"
  5. Select the Change Data button

Finding Your Geography


The U.S. Census uses a system called "GEOGRAPHIES". They are boundaries that embody physical concepts, like zip codes known as ZTCA, cities, counties and states. However

  • Social Explorer does not include every possible census geography
  • The Census uses its own methods and terminology for geography as well, the most prominent of which is a division known as a "Census tract," which divides up counties
  • Social Explorer shows boundaries for most Census Tracts back to 1940.
  • City and Census Tract boundaries usually change with every decennial census.  Expect to see larger tracts for older census years.