Final Project Proposal: Space and Community in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
The data being used in this project is compiled from United States census records of Pittsfield, Massachusetts from the years 1900, 1920 and 1940. By 1900, Pittsfield began including ward data within the federal census. Starting with some of the larger ethnic populations that immigrated into the city during this forty year period, this project aims to focus on the following immigrant groups: German, Irish, English, Polish, Austrian, Italian, and French residents of Pittsfield.
Contained within these census records is basic information about the individuals living within the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This includes the name, birth year, birth location, gender, ward residence, position in family, and any known family members of each individual listed on the census. By focusing on ward residence and birth locations from the three specified time periods it is possible to discern and interpret immigration patterns within the city, where different ethnic and racial groups were living, and how this changed throughout the first half of the twentieth century. This then leads to a series of research questions:
- Were different ethnic and racial groups living within specific wards within the city?
- Was there overlap within each ward where different ethnic and racial groups were living?
- How did population number of a certain ethnic or racial group impact population disbursement of that group?
- How might have population and ward location of one ethnic or racial population have affected the population and ward location of another group?
- How does Pittsfield’s overall population change overtime? (emphasizing that the city is always evolving in size and culture)
- How was Pittsfield’s population impacted by larger immigration movements? (ex: Irish immigration, the Great Migration from Eastern and Southern Europe)
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I mentioned this in class, but I’ll repeat it til you’re all sick of it: you have a big problem with passive voice making your meaning opaque here. You don’t have to be the opaque third person historian here. Numbers can be very difficult to read about, so try to engage with the reader with more specifics about people.
You’re not going to have the time this semester to do additional primary research, so focus on humanizing your subjects with the data you have: you can discuss a specific person or family that exemplifies a trend in your data by looking more closely at their individual record.
And remember what we talked about re: absolute vs. relative numbers 😛