For those that have been keeping up with our posts, you probably have noticed that we have finished entering census data. It has been an extremely tiring and exhaustive process for each of us in the class to digitize at least twenty sheets of census records. As we came to an end, there was a good discussion in our class about the possibilities for extrapolating information. Our Professor, David Pettegrew, showed us the ways that we could access certain information using Microsoft Access from the data we transcribed. He ran one search to find how many people in the wards had been born at sea. At least six names popped up on the screen. The interest and intrigue of those six people just became awe-inspiring and quite emotional. The actual connections to the past that had been made demonstrated the countless opportunities to unlock knowledge never before seen. It is astounding to even fathom as a nation the revelations we could find about ourselves if all census records were digitized.
As stated in one of the earlier posts, there was a standard set of information entered in the spreadsheets. If you refer to this recent post, all of the criteria seems quite interesting and somehow tangibly relates to our own lives.
As historians, we try to take this information and somehow make sense of the past and maybe give ourselves some understanding of how the world works through its societal, cultural, technological, and political advances. As stated above, separating my research objectivity with my subjective emotions is not easy and this became very apparent with one of the subject fields we had to type, categorized as “Number of Children Born” to “Number of Children Living.” The average number of children born was 3.3, the average number of children currently living, 2.4.
Looking over this data, you can see that there was at least a slight infant mortality rate. It brings to mind that this project is going to have a personal effect for those who have deep roots in Harrisburg. That’s a great mindset to have as we uncover social revelations about this city.