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SWK 4010 Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities

Community Research Resources

The Census Bureau collects official demographic data about the United States and its communities. The Census Bureau and related agencies are the most-trusted resources for this information.
Cities and counties usually have websites that offer invaluable information.

Start with a Google Search for your city or county.

Look for webpages / sections of the website that discuss residents. Every site will be different, but usually you will find this information under About Us, History, Demographic Information or Community Profile.

Also look for information on city government, these sections will give you access to Board meeting minutes, agendas, etc.  

You may also want to look for services and resources available to residents.

The best information can often be found on local police and/or sheriff's office websites in annual reports and statistics.
The resources below may also be useful.
Find and explore the governing websites for your community. The resources linked below may also provide important political information.

For more information about voting, elections, and political information, please see our guide on the topic, linked below.

For more information about researching state or federal policies that may effect your community, see the guide below.

Neighborhoods in Chicago that we recognize as discrete areas are not actually polled that way by the US Census. To find quality data about these areas, you may need to look at other sources.

Note: There are 77 official "community areas" in Chicago. Many of the neighborhoods we recognize are actually a small part of one of these larger more official neighborhoods. It's a good idea to determine whether your community is one of the 77 or a less official area. When not available for the smaller community you have identified, data can be found for a larger geographic region.

Determining the census tracts, or smaller geographic regions of census data, associated with your neighborhood will allow you to pull census data for that specific region.
Local health departments, often a county-level department, are the best source for local concerns and data. You may also find useful information in these resources.
Haven't found what you're looking for? Explore lists with many more sources from other libraries. You may also consider asking a librarian!

Google Search

Google Search Tips

There are a few ways to conduct more effective Google searches. Use these in addition to your search terms.

1. Use the limiter site: to filter for websites that end in a specific domain.

Examples

  • site:.gov  returns sites that end with .gov
  • site:.edu  returns sites that end with .edu
  • site:.org  returns sites that end with .org

screenshot of a Google search for the words "site:.gov social work advocacy"

2. Use the same limiter to search a specific website. This can be more effective than using the search feature on a website.

Examples

  • site:cdc.gov returns results from the CDC website
  • site:aurora.edu returns results from the Aurora University website

3. Use the limiter filetype: to search for specific types of material. 

Example

  • filetype:pdf returns only pdf results

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