The White House makes public its logs of visitors to the buildings in the secure area near the Executive Mansion. It can be hard to navigate; it's presented on the site as a long list of visitors with inscrutable codes identifying where they were headed and the people with whom they met.
So we decided to make it easier. We pulled all of the data from the White House Web site -- over 4 million records through last November -- and created a database that allows users to search easily by name and see when and where visitors we inside the compound's gates. You can explore the data using the tool at the bottom of this article.
There are three main places that people go when they are approved to get inside the White House fences. There's the mansion, of course, labeled as "White House" in our tool. There are also the Old and New Executive Office Buildings, shown on the map below. Most of those headed to the mansion itself are there for tours. Most of those headed to the other buildings are there for meetings; when available, we also indicate who the meeting was with. ("POTUS" and "FLOTUS," of course, are the President and First Lady.)
The data can be messy: You may find weird glitches and we can't verify that the data is complete. We'll also note that the White House logs often include middle initials. Searches in our tool use the entire name provided by the White House, so "John A Smith" and "John Smith" are different people -- and a search for "John Smith" won't turn up the John with the middle initial. After all, we don't know if John A. Smith is the same as John Smith, so we want to keep them separate.
We recommend starting with the most distinctive part of the person's name: Lebron versus James, for example (two visits for "Lebron R James"). Results come in alphabetical order by first name and only display 250 at a time. So try to refine your searches.
We made this, in part, as a crowd-sourcing tool. See someone interesting meeting with someone else interesting? Flag it, by clicking the icon next to the person's name. Tell us why it's interesting to you and we'll get a heads up. (And, in advance: Yes, we know that Al Sharpton's been there a lot.)