I’m Sarah. I’m a Public History major with a minor in religion and I have been working for Digital Harrisburg for a little over a year now. For the majority of my time here, I’ve been working with ArcGIS. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is used to add data and display it spatially, usually on maps. I have been working with a map of 1901 Harrisburg, which was scanned and uploaded to the program. I add data to specific locations on the map by using the program to draw shapes over the map. These shapes (or polygons) I try to make an outline of the building, and from there
can then attach important data to. Attached to the map is an attribute table, which is like an Excel spreadsheet. For each polygon created, a new row is added to the attribute table. We are refining the building footprints, adding new fields, and adding new building footprints. The columns are categories of information about each polygon, such as address, property owner, material, etc. I get this information from the map, which includes house numbers, street names, property owners, and is color-coded based on the building material. I completed Wards 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, accumulating to
12,513 polygons. This map offers a history of Harrisburg that will be used by researchers of tax history and social mobility in the future.
I am now working with Dr. Pettegrew on new research related to the extent of social mobility in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. Using various maps as well as census data, Digital Harrisburg is hoping to discover the extent of social mobility in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. My research on the topic is preliminary. I am mainly focusing on discovering recent studies (ranging from 1990 to 2017) that have used federal census data. I am looking particularly for how historians have used census data, and any problems they have cited with census data. Censuses, although they are the one of the most expansive sources historians have today, were
often inaccurate and taken carelessly. It takes a lot of thought and effort to analyze those tables. I am looking forward to continuing in my research on the topic of social mobility and census records. I hope to keep you updated on my progress as I continue.
For more information on GIS, here are some past blog posts on the subject.