Final Proposals

Final Project Proposal: Space and Community in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

            In order to utilize this information, the data must first be sectioned out by census year and each ethnic group.  Once this has been completed, a majority of the data cleaning will be done on the column within each spreadsheet assigned to country of birth.  This is necessary, because not all birth locations are listed as the same for individuals that will be classified together for this study.  For example, individuals on the 1920 U.S. census from Bavaria, Turlingen Germany, Alsace-Lorraine, Saxony Germany, Ruchenback Germany, Prussia Germany, and Danzig Germany will all be listed as being from Germany for data analysis purposes.  This will allow for a broader analysis of German immigrants to other ethnic/racial groups living in Pittsfield. 

Much can be discerned from interpreting this data, but census records do not show why different populations chose to center their communities within a certain area of Pittsfield, or even immigrate to Pittsfield to begin with.  One must also research the city’s parameters, buildings, industrial growth, religious institutions within the city, and the interplay between each ethnic and racial micro-community to deduce why groups came in and where they chose to live.  For example, many communities formed around a religious institution at its center, which is not indicated in the census records. 

These records also do not tell the personal stories of the people listed on them.  While studying the overall population of a community a researcher must remember that each row within a larger spreadsheet of data was, or is, an actual person.  Data can reflect cultural and social values, but more personal, primary sources are also invaluable. 

The presentation of the data and information derived from these census records will be done online, via a website.  Bar graphs of each census year, with the X-axis showcasing each of Pittsfield’s wards and the Y-axis indicating population numbers, will be used to show differences in ward population of each ethnic/racial community.  The bar graphs will then be presented on a small multiples chart, with the census years in ascending order, to showcase changes in ward populations of ethnic/racial groups over time. 

Scrolling maps of Pittsfield, indicating the city’s wards, will also be displayed in which viewers will be able to see highlighted areas where each ethnic group was living.  Being able to move from overlaid ward maps, one for each census year, readers will be able to articulate differences in ward populations of each ethnic/racial group.

Secondary Bibliography

Dickson, John S. Images of America: Berkshire County’s Industrial Heritage (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2017).

Guertin, Joseph G. Notre Dame: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1867-2004 (Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Joseph G. Guertin, 2005).

Hatton, Timothey J. and Jeffrey G. Williamson. What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Nineteenth Century?. Population and Development Review, 20, no. 3.

Herwitz, Jon and Mark Peffley. Public Perceptions of Race and Crime: The Role of Racial Stereotypes. American Journal of Political Science, 41, no. 2 (1997).

Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1998).

The Folk Arts Council (Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Pittsfield Police Association, 1975).

Wilson, Richard Guy. Re-creating the American past: essays on the colonial revival (United States: University of Virginia Press, 2006).


March 22: have also spreadsheets sectioned out by census years and ethnic/racial group

March 28: finish data cleaning within each spreadsheet of birth location, census year and ward residence

April 2: complete bar graphs for data presentation and begin developing website

April 9: complete scrolling maps for data presentation, wireframe due

April 23: complete website for data presentation platform

April 30: make any adjustments to project May 16: submit final project

May 16: submit final project

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One Comment

  • Maeve Kane

    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 😛