Digital Harrisburg: Beginning of the Year Update Fall 2017


Hello, Rachel from the Digital Harrisburg team here.

There are lots of exciting announcements for the upcoming year, but first I should explain what projects I tackled over the summer.

First of all, I dove into the world of 1900 property values for Harrisburg. After downloading images captured from an annual Tax Assessment book, I would read through and copy the columns of information into an Excel document.

An example of the original Tax Assessment documents used to make the Excel sheet.
An example of an Excel document that I was filling out. This one is for Ward 8, matching the picture of the original document.

The most important information, for this project anyway, from these documents were the property values. They ranged from a mere $100 to an impressive $20000. Houses in Wards 1 and 2, the more industrial areas of the city, tended to have lower value. Conversely, business and corporations had the highest values. Houses nearer to the capitol, Wards 3-9, had middle-of-the-road property values.

Over the summer, I was able to complete the transcription for all of the available images, which include Wards 1-5 and 7-10. After that, I briefly started work with the 1900 census for the city. Some previously recorded information was missing certain fields, and it was my job to find out why and fill out the field if possible. This was feasible through, which has accessible copies of these historical documents.

After a pleasant and relaxing summer, I am back for my junior year here at Messiah and ready to start new historical projects about Harrisburg. It is very early in the school year, but so far there are plans to revisit GIS, continue work with property values and with 1900 census data, and, of course, blogging. My big-picture goal is to have an overall data set for the year 1900, and step by step it is coming true!

In addition, now the Digital Harrisburg project has a new space in Boyer Hall, and we even have times blocked off especially for us. I will miss the days in the Boyer 2nd resource room, where Sarah and I worked on this project for fifteen months, but now Computer Science major Kelly Hopkins and I are surrounded by silence and lots of other computers. I am certainly looking forward to what this year has to offer, and I am thrilled to see this project move forward.




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