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City Beautiful and the 1900 Census

Mira Lloyd Dock

1899 Harrisburg. The city was falling apart. There were talks of the Capital of Pennsylvania being moved. From all of this emerged a female leader determined to transform the city into the beautiful place she knew it could be. Mira Lloyd Dock was this proactive woman who saw the potential in Harrisburg. The City Beautiful movement flourished through Dock’s aid in the 1900s. Through this site, we will be looking at the history of Harrisburg at this time.

1900UnitedStatesFederalCensus-shaded

One of the first things we are looking at is Census Records from the city of Harrisburg  in 1900 through Ancestry.com. In looking at some of these records, there have been several recurring themes, particularly in occupation. Ward 4, a Ward that I am working on digitizing, held the majority of the educated members of Harrisburg society. Almost every person from this area was literate and held a job. It was truly incredible to see that most of the women were literate, as well as held jobs in Harrisburg. These women held varying jobs, from seamstresses to saleswomen. Additionally, most of the residents who were employed were employed by the railroad. It is interesting to see this information in the 1900 Census Records. Despite all of this information, digitizing these Census Records from 1900 proves to be a challenge. Not only are they handwritten in cursive, but they are also written by several different people, all with varying degrees of legibility in writing. As you can see in the picture, transcribing some of the information from these records proves to be a slight problem.

Through this project, our group will focus on the more political aspects of City Beautiful. This group will be focusing on the work of the Municipal League of Harrisburg, Mayor Vance McCormick, and both the advocates and opponents of the City Beautiful movement. Soon we will begin looking into these political aspects of the movement, including some archival research at the Dauphin County Historical Society. Check back in for more information about the entire City Beautiful project!

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