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SWK 6382 Social Work Practice II: Community

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.
City and county governments usually have websites that offer invaluable information.

Start with a Google Search for your city or county. Be aware that multiple locations may use the same name and be sure to the find the correct one.

Look for webpages / sections of the website that discuss residents. Every site will be different, but often 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, and reports that can provide great details.

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.

Search online to find the website for your community's law enforcement. 


The resources below may also be useful.
The resources linked below can help you find local election authorities and learn about elected officials.
You may also wish to explore local government webpages, such as for a city council or board.
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 are often the best option for health and mental health data.
  1. Identify what county your community is in.
  2. Find that county's health department website.
  3. Look for data, reports, or other information that may help you.
  4. When in doubt, try searching Google using site:[url] and your topic to more effectively investigate a website.
Try searching in Census data for some health information.

Search for demographic characteristics like disability. Limit by a geographic region using the filters on the left. It may need to be larger than your community such as a zip code or county.

You may also find useful information from these national resources. 
Haven't found what you're looking for? Explore lists below 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.


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

screenshot of a Google search for the words " 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.


  • returns results from the CDC website
  • returns results from the Aurora University website

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


  • filetype:pdf returns only pdf results




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