Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Finding the Neighborhood" enumerator's path example

Example 1: Identifying a Census Enumeration Route With Modern Maps
This example comes from a client report where there was no time to hunt up historic maps to find an address listed on the 1930 census. I can usually find time to pop an address into Google Maps (not Google Earth, in this case) and that's what I did. Historic maps may exist, and probably do, for this location but for the point of the example please pretend they aren't accessible, you may run into a similar situation in your research. This was an urban location with standard street numbers and street names. Unfortunately the "street" I was interested in wasn't found in Google Maps. Instead I tried some of the addresses on the streets enumerated before and after. Below are the results (this is not what was supplied to the client, it is an illustration for the lecture, specifically).

A, B, C, & D (the green markers) are four addresses surrounding the address of interest. The address of interest is for dwelling/family number 173. The street for dwelling/family numbers 169 to 176 is not on a modern map.
The circles with numbers are the modern addresses for dwellings 168 and 177. Although the addresses may not be exact due to construction since 1930, the enumerator’s path indicates the general area where dwellings 169 to 176 would have been. The enumerator was going to the dwellings inside the square formed by the four roads indicating dwellings 169 to 176 were most likely also inside this square, with road access near or before the corner of 7th St. and Caldwell Ave. (dwellings 168 and 177). Dwellings 169 to 176 were on “Cedars Alley” and the northern street (point A) is Cedars Avenue. It is possible (perhaps even probable?) the alley ran parallel to Cedars Avenue (behind the houses) with access off of Caldwell (point B). Perhaps the enumerator started on Caldwell and had to go almost all the way back to Cedars to enumerate the alley rather than interrupting the enumeration along the Caldwell block.
This example deserves another map and a warning. The satellite image above was accessed in February 2014. The client report was written in April 2011; below is the satellite image for the same block found at that time.

There's been quite a bit of demolition! It's also unclear if the structure for dwelling 177, as found in 2014, is there. It probably is under the tree but it isn't certain. If this example were in my personal research, where I wasn't limited by a maximum hour authorization from the client, I would certainly be looking for historic maps to see what the neighborhood looked like in 1930. Since there were five streets in sequence and all but the missing "alley" create this block, it's unlikely the general location is wrong but the character of the neighborhood could be completely different. If mapping multiple addresses didn't result in an obvious path, the general location might not be correct in an area demonstrating so much change.
The next example for this lecture is a rural setting in the 19th century. You can view this township and range example here.