The American Jewish Yearbook and Postwar American Jewry

For my project I used Zotero and the add-on Paper Machines to analyze the American Jewish Yearbook (hereafter AJYB) for the years 1939 until 1981. During that period of publication, the AJYB was owned by the American Jewish Committee, one of the largest Jewish organizations in the United States, and thus provides a very good indication of the direction of that American Jewish leadership is trying to push the community. The AJYB began publication in 1899 and was intended to bring the diverse communities of American Jewry together. There was a concern that Jews further out in the hinterlands would not maintain their Judaism if they were not connected to the wider Jewish world. For this reason, the publication attempted to de-centralize itself from a focus on larger cities with substantially more Jews, and instead focused on American Jews overall.
From its earliest publication, the AJYB had the purpose of situating American Jews in the wider Jewish world.

The American Jewish Committee also posited the AJYB as a work that supported reaching out to broader American population. (Sanua, Marianne Let Us Prove Strong: The American Jewish Committee 1945-2006 Boston: Brandies University Press 2007. P.15.) Because of its intended purpose of chronicling matters of importance to the Jewish community both at home and abroad, because of this, a digital analysis of it is a great asset to larger work on American Jews in the twentieth century. This study focuses on the AJYB in the years 1939 until 1981. This was done in an attempt to better understand the changing American Jewish relationship with Israel, and how the civil rights movement altered, or did not alter, that relationship.

The historiography of American Jews in the twentieth century is one of triumph. Historians such as Hasia Diner and Leonard Dinnerstein detail an American Jewry who were collectively upwardly mobile and part of the mainstream liberal coalition of twentieth century American politics. In describing American Jewry in the mid to late twentieth century, Hasia Diner writes: “In this era dominated by a new kind of Jewish mobility-the move from the cities to the suburbs-American Jews found ways to combine middle class comforts, social activism, and commitments.” She continues “The newly independent state of Israel, while not the primary influence on communal identity, inspired pride among American Jews.” (Hasia Diner The Jews of the United States 1654-2000 Berkley: University of California Press 2004 p. 260) While this represents the traditional narrative of American Jews as a model minority, other scholars have complicated this idea. Michael Staub argues: “Precisely because of the painful paradoxical doubleness of increasing security and prosperity in the United States alongside the acute awareness of the potential ferocity and tenacity of antisemitism, postwar American Jews struggled over the issues of assimilation and acculturation with particular anguish and ambivalence.” (Michael Staub Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America New York: Columbia University Press 2002. P.10.) This tension between touting the successes of the American Jewish community and concern that too much success could increase assimilation to the point where the American Jewish community might cease to exist as a result of its own success defines the struggles of 20th century American Jewry.

General Results

Broadly, my research using the American Jewish Yearbook indicates that Jews were very concerned with upward mobility. In addition, there was a collective anxiety about issues such as high levels of assimilation and integration, as well as threats of antisemitism emanating from both the political left and right. The findings from my study reflect a great deal of disjointment on the part of American Jewry. This could be because the AJYB itself is an attempt to codify all information pertinent to American Jews. However, the lack of a decided focus and the mixture between national and international issues can also indicate a group identity that, while increasingly focused on the United States, still had a strong international component to it.

As an example, a .tif filtered word cloud had such desperate words as “Israel”, “Soviet”, and “negro” featured as prominent words in the collection. The combination of these three as major topics seems to indicate that the focus of the American Jewish community was not specifically on the United States, but on wherever Jews lived in major communities especially communities that seemed threatened. It is notable that the sections examined for this project did not mention countries with relatively stable populations in the twentieth century, such as South Africa or Argentina. Instead, the emphasis is on communities outside of the United States that are inherently unstable such as Israel and the Soviet Union. Given the emphasis on demographic concerns that also play a major role in the AJYB, I would posit that this concern is a reflection on the internal instability of the American Jewish community. Although the argument could be made that American geopolitical concerns were likely at the center of this concern for the Soviet Union and Israel, that does not necessarily hold true for the state of Israel. As John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt write in their work The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy “When Israel was founded in 1948, U.S. policy makers did not consider it a strategic asset. The new state was regarded as weak and potentially vulnerable, and American policy makers recognized that embracing Israel too closely would undermine the U.S. position elsewhere in the Middle East.” ( John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy Farrar, Straus and Giroux publishers 2007 p. 151)

The results of this project also reveal just how much American Jews were concerned with international affairs. All of the Paper Machines methods uncover different parts of essentially the same story: the centrality of external events and actors on American Jewry’s perception of itself. The Holocaust, Israel, and the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union dominated the discourse on the pages of the AJYB. The fact that these places and events are featured so prominently in sections that deal with American Jewry demonstrate both the international character of American Jews, and the attempts by American Jews to deal with their position as both Americans, generally liberal ones, who were focused on American issues, and as Jews who were concerned with the plight of their co-religionists across the world.

Dunnings-log Word Cloud

Interesting results also came from a tif filtered large word cloud. This word cloud showed the most used words in the corpus of what I was looking at. Because the sections of the AJYB that I looked at were centered on the United States, I expected to find references to mainly to domestic issues. Instead, I discovered that the largest word in the word cloud is ‘Israel’. This is very telling and, given that so many other words including ‘Palestine’ and ‘Zionism’ that are also related to Israel are also in the cloud, the centrality of Israel to the writers, editors, and presumably readers of the AJYB cannot be ignored. While a single publication obviously does not speak for the entire Jewish community, it does reveal larger trends in the American Jewish trend toward looking to Israel as a source of ethnic and religious identity. A Dunnings-log likelihood word cloud reveals a different finding however: while a concern for words related to Israel and Palestine appears where one would expect it to, with words such as “Displace Persons” and “Dr. Silver” (Abba Hillel Silver was a leading American Rabbi and Zionist), there is a notable drop off in the use of the terms before returning in the word cloud for the years 1963 until 1968 and becoming more prominent for the last several word clouds. This is likely because a Dunnings-log likelihood emphasizes the overuse of terms in a given data set and is better at exposing differences between groupings in a corpus. A tf*idf, however looks at the importance of the word when weighed against other words in the same set.
Present in the large word cloud are words and phrases relating to domestic issues such as the push for civil rights such as ‘federal’, ‘teachers’, and ‘housing’. The prominence of these two themes can be seen throughout this project. This speaks to the duality that defined American Jewry in the postwar. They were at once emphasizing their American identity, but also concerning themselves with the wider Jewish world. As with the Dunnings-log word cloud, there are many words that can be put into context by someone with experience in the subject that might be missed by someone who does not work extensively in it. Some of the words in the cloud can be seen as ambiguous, unless one knows the context of their likely use and can connect them with larger trends.

Phrase Nets

As part of my work, I also created multiple phrase nets. Paper Machines allows one to make custom phrase nets, as well as allowing one to use the standard ones that the program has set up. Phrase nets allow one to see how words and phrases are connected in a given text. In this study, I used both the standard phrase nets (x equals y, x the y) and I made my own using terms that were pertinent to my research, such as ‘Israel’ and ‘antisemitism’. All of the phrase nets revealed something interesting, but perhaps the most useful was the phrase net that I ran was for the term ‘antisemitism’. That net was much smaller than the others, but the words that it connected to were very telling. The two largest words were ‘combat’ and ‘negro’. While I was certainly expecting to find references to African Americans in a phrase net such as this, I also expected to find references to right wing antisemitism in the United States and abroad, or words such as ‘Egypt’, ‘PLO’, or ‘Arab’ in reference to Israel. In my research, I also took into account the fact that the word ‘antisemitism’ has changed over the decades. While the meaning has stayed the same, the physical construction of the word has undergone a change. Anti-Semitism is the original spelling, and antisemitism is much more modern, which could potentially skew the results. With this in mind, I also ran the phrase ‘anti-Semitism’ and the top word on that phrase net was ‘Soviet’. This was certainly not surprising, as there were several attempts made over the last half of the twentieth century to alleviate the sufferings of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Another phrase net using the term ‘civil rights’ reveal the intricacies of the civil rights movement, with words such as ‘federal’ and ‘state’ mixing with words describing the impact of legislation such as ‘major’ and ‘historic’. This phrase net was less valuable than I had hoped for, as it did not really say anything about relations between African Americans and Jews, but instead emphasized government legislation. In addition, A phrase net centered on the word ‘Israel’ was also less helpful than anticipated, especially considering how central Israel seems to be to American Jews based on the various word clouds. Most of the words linked to ‘Israel’ were organizations, such as the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) or dates such as 1967. Significantly, the word ‘American’ did appear as well as ‘United’, although United could possibly be referring to the UJA and not the United States

Topic Modeling

Finally, I ran multiple topic models that gave me graphs of a change over time in word usage in the AJYB. What I was most surprised about was the domination of words relating to Israel in the topic model. Nearly every three-word phrase in some of the topic models related in some way to Israel or Palestine, certainly much more so than any other country, including the United States. What makes the topic models most interesting is that they show a strong change over time by their word use and combination of words surrounding Israel. For example, the graph shows a very prominent use of the term ‘Palestine’ early in the sample study, alongside the words ‘refuge’ and ‘committee’. This is a reference Palestine’s place as a refuge for European Jews during the Holocaust. As a bookend to this, the words ‘peace’, ‘Carter’ and ‘Israel’ become more pronounced at the end of the graph. This is likely because of President Carter’s negotiations for a major peace treaty between Israel and Egypt at Camp David. While this combination of words is to be expected in a section focusing specifically on Israel, it is very notable that they appear in parts of the publication that are focused on the United Stats, especially since the AJYB’s stated goal is write on Jewish communities and not on political leaders.

In a stemming, .tif filtered 25 topic topic model, the word combination “black, Israel, and Soviet” makes an appearance in the 1966 AJYB and continues until the 1981 edition, which is the final edition studied for this project. This likely indicates an increased interest on the part of Jews to what was going on on the political left. This time period corresponds to the rise of the neoconservative movement among Jewish intellectuals. In this historiography, neoconservatism is generally seen as a reaction against international developments, however recent studies have questioned this narrative and shown that this strain of Jewish conservatism was influenced by a variety of factors, both foreign and domestic. The same time period shows a resurgence of use of the word phrases ‘Israel, Arab, Soviet’. That the Soviet Union would come into such prominence so late in the war is interesting. The 1940s and 1950s saw vicious Soviet antisemitism and a brutal crackdown on Jews as Jews. However, it was not until well after this that the Soviet Union started to be a major topic of conversation in the American sections of the AJYB. This is likely because it was during the 1970s that allowing Soviet Jews to leave the USSR became a viable option. Although many of the Soviet emigrants came to the United States, the majority ended up in Israel. The three word phrase could also allude to Soviet support for the Arab armies that invaded Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War in which the United States supported the Israelis and the Soviet Union backing the Arab armies.

The program that offered the best general narrative history of American Jews in the postwar was a Dunnings-log likelihood word cloud. Using a word cloud filtered with the titles of sections as stop words and Dunnings-log likelihood, which helps to show over-represented words in comparison to the other pieces of data, I was able to create a rough sketch of how the topics that were discussed by American Jews changed over time. To someone familiar with American Jewish history, the topics revealed by the Dunnings-log likelihood do not come as a surprise. The earliest years in the study were dominated by a mix of words relating to both domestic and international threats to American Jews such as “German government” and “Father Coughlin” as well as significant political figures and institutions such as “President Roosevelt” and “British government”. These words reveal an American Jewish community that was concerned with the plight of European Jews, but was also focused on American interests.

As the Second World War waged at full force, and American Jews began to better, if still not fully, understand the existential threats faced by European Jewry. Jewish leaders began to organize efforts to alleviate the suffering of their co-religionists in Europe. This included linking their efforts with Zionism and the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, a proposition that had hitherto been received largely with indifference on the part of American Jews. These findings are generally in line with the existing historiography with Historian Arthur Goren arguing, “American Jews confronted the enormity of the destruction of European Jewry and the urgent need to resettle and rehabilitate the one-third that had survived. This task merged almost immediately with the struggle for Jewish statehood in Palestine. Linking the solution of the problem of the survivors with the attainment of statehood created a unity of purpose on a scale unprecedented in the modern history of the Jews.” (Arthur A. Goren A Golden Decade: 1945-1955 in The American Jewish Experience edited by Jonathan Sarna New York: Holmes and Meier publishing 1997 p.296)

The results from the word cloud largely conformed to the link posited by Goren, although words relating to Zionism and European Jews begin several years before the time period discussed in his work. There is the added challenge that some of the words that come up in the word cloud do not explicitly reference Zionism or the Holocaust, but the implicit tie is clear if you have the historical background. For example, one of the words from the 1942-1943 AJYB “San Francisco” likely references the Biltmore Conference that took place in May 1942. The conference united American Zionist factions, that had previously been fighting and established Zionism as a dominate part of American Jewish discourse. In his work The Emergence of American Zionism Mark Raider describes the conference as an event that “epitomized the progress that American Zionism as a whole had taken since 1917.” (Mark Raider The Emergence of American Zionism New York: NYU Press 1998 p. 207) In addition, the same year features the words “Dr. Silver” likely a reference to Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, a prominent American Zionist leader. These words reveal one of the main challenges when working with word clouds, which is that they are most effective when one already has a background in the subject. It is easier for someone with experience to use these types of tools because there is an element of subtly to language and some words have connections or meanings that are decidedly implicit. The rest of the 1940s in this word cloud is largely dominated by words and phrases relating to European Jews and the aftermath of the Holocaust such as ‘Displaced Persons’, which, in the Jewish context referred to Holocaust survivors who were not able to return to their homes in Europe.

The words used in the clouds of the 1950s re-focus the American Jewish experience to the United States and center largely on the civil rights movement and gains made by African Americans. Issues such as school desegregation and Supreme Court decisions relating to African Americans dominate the word clouds. This is largely in line with the historiography that centers American Jews as part of the broader civil rights coalition and allied with African Americans. While this thesis has come under some scrutiny as of late, it still largely holds in the historiography. Cheryl Greenberg puts it best when she describes the alliance as “a cold war liberal attempt to end discrimination based on race or religion using the institutions of civil society: courts, legislatures, media, public schools and voluntary organizations.” (Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century New York: Princeton University Press 2006 p.115) The words featured in the word clouds for this time period generally feature words centering on government and liberal efforts to end discrimination such as ‘de facto segregation’ and ‘supreme court’.

Where the word cloud gets interesting from a historiographical perspective is in the mid-1960s. In particular, the word cloud for the 1963 issue features the phrase ‘intermarriage rate’ and the 1964 edition the phrase ‘negro antisemtism’. This is extremely telling and extremely important for understanding the American Jewish relationship with civil rights. By the late 1960s, the civil rights coalition was fracturing along ethnic lines, ultimately causing the rise of a unique brand of Jewish conservatism that centered on the projection of American power and the defense of the state of Israel in the form of neoconservatism. Like nearly all forms of conservatism, neoconservatism was based on a fear of losing position in society. In my larger dissertation argument, I argue that American Jews are concerned with rates of assimilation and intermarriage that are so high that they are potentially unsustainable to continued Jewish life in America. This is why the leaders of institutions such as the American Jewish Committee work to over emphasize this idea of antisemitism in the civil rights coalition. This connection from one year to the next would seem to indicate a correlation between the two topics.

The final decade covered in the analysis, the 1970s sees a return to a focus on foreign policy, with issues related to Israel and Palestine dominating the word cloud, with the exception of one, “Andrew Young” who was an African American ambassador whose tenure was cut short after he met with leaders from the Palestine Liberation Organization, a move that vilified by American Jewish organizations and lead ultimately to Young’s resignation. In short, if one were to look at how American Jews viewed themselves via this word cloud analysis of the AJYB, one would surmise that their fate was closely tied to the fate of Israel. Although this word cloud was by far the most straight forward in terms of telling a pretty standard narrative of 20th century American Jewish history, it nonetheless helps to reveal some of the subtleties within that standard narrative and allows for an exploration of many of the external factors that influenced American Jewry.


While the bulk of this study focused on the American section of the AJYB, an attempt was made to get information out of the Israel section of the publication. Although it would have been very profitable to the overall project to have gotten more information out of that section, due to size limitations, it proved impossible to run anything more than a couple of word clouds. Although I struggled to get much information out of the Israel section of the AJYB, the word clouds that I did manage to get some significant results for comparison. Comparing .tif filtered word clouds for Israel and the United States over the corpus of each text, it is significant that both the Israel and American section have Israel at the center of them. In the AJYB sections on Israel, the words most used are ‘Israel’, ‘Israeli’ ‘Egyptian’, ‘peace’, and ‘immigrants’. In an American tif filtered word cloud, the largest words include ‘Israel’, ‘Hebrew’, ‘Soviet’, and ‘education’. While many of the words in the American section are focused on the United States, others are not and the words featured in it indicate an international focus on the part of American Jewry. In contrast, the sections on Israel focused much more on words that pertain to Israel in particular. While American Jews produced the AJYB for an American audience, this nonetheless demonstrates how secure American Jews were in their position in the United States. Unlike Israelis, who were forced to be concerned mainly with their own interests, American Jews could use their clout to assert themselves politically internationally. This relative safety and stability allowed American Jews to survey the Jewish world and offer their assistance wherever they saw fit.

Larger Trends

While the topic models produced demonstrate an emphasis on concern for European Jewry and the rise of Nazism in combination with an increased emphasis on the pre-state Jewish governmental structure in Palestine, a Dunnings .tif filtered word cloud produced results that demonstrate a concern for American issues such as Catholic Priest and antisemetic demagogue Father Coughlin, who was actively spreading propaganda about the Jewish role in both the Roosevelt administration, as well as arguing that Americans should not support American involvement in the Second World War. The same word cloud shows an emphasis on the Christian Front organization in the 1940 edition. This organization was a hard right militantly antisemetic organization that existed for several years in the late 1930s. While the role of antisemitism at home in the United States has not been emphasized in the literature as much, there is some indication that American antisemitism played a role in American Jewish support for Israel. Historian Michelle Marsh argues in her article Constructing a Universal Ideal: Anti-Semitism, American Jews, and the Founding of Israel that American support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine was a reflexive action in favor of universalism: “The fight against anti-Semitism, a “universal” cause, helped justify the struggle to establish a Jewish state that was, at first glance, a narrow, particular cause.” (Michelle Mart Constructing a Universal Ideal: Antisemitism, American Jews, and the Founding of Israel. Modern Judaism 20.2 2000)

While there is little indication of this in the sections of the AJYB studied here, it is clear that a general concern about antisemitism was prevalent in American Jewish discourse. This concern manifested itself in multiple ways over the course of the AJYB, and most notably it shifted sides ideologically in the mid 1960s. The Dunnings-log likelihood five year word cloud discussed early in this work reveals a strong use of words related to right wing antisemitism such as the National Front, a Christian antisemetic organization, and Father Coughlin. The word cloud for the years 1963-1968, however shows a decided shift from concern about antisemitism coming from the right to a focus on the left. The 1963 until 1968 word cloud is key because it features both the terms ‘negro antisemitism’ and Ku klux”. This word cloud marks a turning point in American Jewish perception, and the word clouds for the years after this have a heavy influence of Israel-related themes and terms. Despite a resurgence of right wing politics leading to the election of Ronald Reagan 1980, there is no longer any mention of right wing antisemitism in the world cloud where it would be most expected to be seen.


In some ways the programs ran on the AJYB confirmed previous scholarship about the place of Israel in American Jewish discourse. The American Jewish relationship with Israel is highly touted and Jews on both the left and right have strong opinions on the state. Author Jo-Ann Mort writing in Dissent magazine in the Spring 2011 issue summed the relationship up succulently when she wrote: “It [Israel] is my home away from home, but it is also my home, the place where I feel a deep sense of connection even in the midst of a jumble of its own contradictions and my own, too. Were I to lose that “home,” the place for which I fight and keep my Jewish soul, I would finally be homeless.” (Dissent magazine vol.58 no.2 Spring 2011 p.25) This centrality of Israel to American Jewish identity can be seen in the digital analysis. One thing that is surprisingly absent, and should be noted however, is explicit references to the Holocaust. This could be because of the way that it was spoken about euphemistically, with phrases like ‘the death of the six million’ used to describe the events, or because it is hidden or implied in discussions about threats to Israel’s safety and concerns about demographics which in the discourse can sometimes emphasize a concern that high levels of assimilation might grant Adolf Hitler a posthumous victory vis-à-vis the end of Jews in the world.

The analysis also demonstrated a continuing concern with antisemitism, both on the political right and left. While it is impossible to say definitively without a close reading of the texts, the word clouds do seem to indicate a shift in concern about where antisemitism is coming from. In the beginning of the publication, it seems as if the antisemitism is coming from the political right. By the end of the timeframe of study, it is obvious that it the concern has shifted to antisemitism emanating from the left, specifically former allies in the civil rights movement. This could be due to legitimate concerns about fears of antisemitism manifesting itself as anti-Zionism, but it could also be due to the shifting place of Jews in American society, and the fact that Jews were collectively becoming more conservative, if not politically, than in defense of their culture and interests, specifically on issues relating to Israel and Affirmative Action, which was seen as a threat to American Jewish advances. (Friedman, Murray What Went Wrong: The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance New York: Free Press 1995 p.312)

One of the largest continuing controversies in the American Jewish studies historiography centers on the Holocaust and Peter Novick’s 1999 work The Holocaust in American Life that centers the event as defining American Jewish identity. Novick argues “In the 1970s, American Jews’ anxiety about Israel’s security, and their viewing Israel’s situation within a Holocaust framework, was the single greatest catalyst of the new centering of the Holocaust in American Jewish consciousness.” (Peter Novick The Holocaust in American Life New York: Mariner Books 1999 p. 168) That there have been large numbers of studies concerning American Jews and the Holocaust, and in my own work, I have come across references to the Holocaust extensively makes it seem odd that it is not discussed more in the AJYB. This could be because the AJYB was focused on stories that offer a breadth of knowledge and not an analysis of why events were happening, or it could be that other sections, such as ones discussing Israel have more references to the Holocaust. Either way, the analysis suggests that the AJYB does not entirely conform to the arguments of the existing historiography.

-Diner, Hasia The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000 Berkely: University of California Press 2006.

-Greenberg, Cheryl Lynn Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century New York: Princeton University Press 2006

-Friedman, Murray What Went Wrong: The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance New York: Free Press 1995.

– Novick, Peter The Holocaust in American Life. New York: Mariner Books 2000.

-Raider, Mark The Emergence of American Zionism New York: NYU Press 1998

-Sarna, Jonathan ed. The American Jewish Experience New York: Holmes and Meier publishing 1997

-Sarna, Marianne Let Us Prove Strong: The American Jewish Committee, 1945-2006 Boston: Brandeis University Press 2007.

-Staub, Michael Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America New York: Columbia University Press 2002.

Slave Sales:1775-1865, an Examination of Median Appraised Value and Geographic Distribution of Slaves in the U.S


The dataset used in this project, “Slave Sales: 1775-1865”, includes information that is numeric, textual, and geographic, which was used to create two data visualizations utilizing TableauPublic. There are thousands of people in this list from mostly Southern States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. To differentiate the states, there are thirty-six different counties, which seem to have some importance as to where slaves with certain skills are sold. In terms of numeric values, these fit into the year of sale, appraised value, and age columns. The year of sale column actually starts in 1742, with one entry, but becomes consistent after 1771, even though the title of the dataset begins with 1775, and ends in 1865. The minimum values for the other two columns both start at zero, but the maximums vary greatly. The maximum age of a given individual can go up to 99, but this is most likely a reporting error due to the fact that it is unlikely that someone could live to that age during this time period. The price for a person also depends on skills and other factors, and the highest price for a slave sometimes exceeded thousands of dollars (again, there was one outlier, a slave listed at $525,000, which would be more than $7 million when adjusted for inflation). The range of descriptive data also varies greatly. Gender is probably the easiest to describe as it follows a binary system, with a slave being either male, or female. The column titled “Skills”, however, is either left blank, or provides a short description about the person. These skills can either show if someone is a field-hand, which is the most common profession for slaves (excluding the “null” descriptor), or if they have specialized training as a carpenter, mechanic, or hairdresser. As stated above, skills determined how much a slave was typically worth, with unskilled laborers usually fetching a lower priced than their skilled counterparts. Issues do reveal themselves, as the large number of slaves with the nothing listed in their skill column create problems. This happens because the highest price of a slave with a skill listed is as blacksmith worth $3500, which is problematic, as appraised values continue to rise from here without any description of what the slave’s skills are. The last column, “Defects”, lists any physical or mental problems a slave might have. These include slaves suffering from things like a hernia, crippling injuries (an example: missing fingers, most likely due to a cotton gin), on the physical side of descriptors, or being deemed insane, or mentally unsound. There are also issues such as alcoholism (labeled as suffering from consumption), and other ailments that are strange (one slave apparently being a “dirt eater”). One interesting feature in this dataset is how there are labels for “boy” or “girl” when no other relevant information is listed for the slave. In cases like these, the age listed shows “0”, for both years and months. This may indicate that the person for sale has not been born yet, which adds another horrifying layer to this dataset, as even the unborn are for sale if this is true. Another possibility is that the data is incomplete, and that these are only typos or information that was excluded in the sales listing.

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Visualizing the Intersections of Slavery,Gender, and Industry in the 19th Century United States

The data set that I chose to analyze and create visuals based on, ‘Slave Sales 1775-1865’, is numeric, textual, and geographic in nature. The first two rows, state and county code, record the state (only southern states are included) and county in which a particular slave sale transaction took place. The third row is the date of the transaction, recorded only by the year,making the data set even narrower. Though the set is stated as recording data from 1775 to 1865, there is an outlying date of 1742, which could cause some difficulty in drawing conclusions about the data on the whole. There are also dates from 1771 to 1774.
The third row is the gender of the person who was sold, both male and female. In the fourth row, the age of the enslaved person is recorded in years. The next set of data is age in months, which turned out to be useless because all the entries were entered with zero. In the six row is the appraised value of each person. This row in particular figured largely in the direction I decided to go in within my analysis and visualization. The last two rows are textual information; skills and defects. The skills row describes a particular occupation that someone may bring to the table, whether it’s as a laborer, cook, or salesperson. The last row is a perceived or physical defect of a person. Like any commodity, enslaved persons are described in the context of being of workable value to a potential owner, therefore if someone is old, with child, or has a physical disability this is considered in the transaction entry. Read more

John Cassidy Final Presentation

Immigration as Societal Change


John Cassidy

Anti immigration sentiment in the United States and elsewhere often revolves around the same argument, this argument being that the new arrivals will bring about a major demographic shift that will ultimately result in a fundamentally changed society which comes across as alarmist but the question remains if this thesis is mathematically possible. This idea has also ingrained itself into the traditional narrative of America in the nineteenth century, prior to this period the immigration to the United States was largely centered around the arrivals from the Protestant areas of Europe as well as the non Catholic populations of Africa used as slave labor. But at the second half of the nineteenth century arrivals from the Catholic areas of Europe began arriving in mass to the United States and with this shift in immigration rhetoric about an impending transformation in American society inevitably followed. Using the Sate of New York as a test case as it was a major influx point for immigration in the nineteenth century this paper will use data and calculations from three sources from the time period to determine the actual demographic shifts during the era. These sources are the 1860 and 1880 censuses of the City of Albany which provide data on the country of origin for citizens and the NY Religion by County data that displays the number of churches various religious denominations in the various counties of New York from 1850 to 1890. Using this data this paper will answer some of the key questions that will either directly prove or disprove the overall assertion, first to what extent did immigrant populations from the more Catholic locations of Europe increase in the second half of the nineteenth century, second was their expansion concentrated in either a select few urban areas or was it a more statewide phenomenon expanding into the rural counties, and last by the time the century had come to a close how had the overall population percentages been affected and more to the point did a new majority emerge from this population influx. Finally while it should go without saying this paper is not about the ethical or social questions around immigration of either the nineteenth century or today and is merely a demonstration of how the use of numerical data can support or dismiss an argument.

The first two data sets the censuses provide largely the same form of data, by grouping the national origins of the persons described in the documents into either Catholic or Protestant countries a rough idea of how immigration affected religious representation can be determined. Before going into the how the data impacts the questions around immigration it is worth noting how the data sets were manipulated to create the sheets that will be referenced in the coming paragraphs. For both census sets the original excel files were put into the program Tableau where the two fields used were the total number of participants and their national origins. The national origins were then divided into four categories as previously stated with the various counties of origin for immigrants being grouped along religious lines. To determine religious lines there have to be assumptions based on national origin, for the category of Catholic countries the southern European states such as Spain or France with Italian areas included but as of the 1860 census Italy was not yet a unified country, included as well is the main source for both censuses Ireland excluding Northern Ireland whose counties contain Protestant majorities, the Northern European states like England, Holland, and Scandinavia were classified as the Protestant immigrant group. Then each of the groups was divided by the total population and the results molded into a pie graph creating the sheets for both the 1860 and 1880 censuses. The value of the pie graphs is that they show portions easily and also because of how the calculations were done also show the percentages when the cursor is placed over the various pieces. The first thing to note about the data sets is how while a previous sentence described three categories there are four in each of the charts. This forth outlier contains the various states that would eventually (in the 1860 and a lesser extent the 1880 census) unite into the modern country of Germany, the reason behind the separation of Germany from the rest of the data is that Germany contains large populations of both Catholic’s and Protestant’s throughout the sub states which makes accurately dividing them along religious lines unrealistic within the given timeframe. Additionally while this does not affect the statistical analysis of the paper it should be stated that for the category of natives anyone born in the United States is counted meaning that these people were native to America not either Albany or New York specifically. Even with any potential German Catholic’s excluded however the percentages still heavily favor Catholic immigration with 23.13% representation in 1860 as opposed to Protestantism’s 4.56% and 15.36% in 1880 to 4.59%. While the percentage shrank between the two data points it is important to note that the raw number of people increased heavily between the two decades with 921 individuals transcribed in 1860 and 23,904 in 1880 which can be attributed to better record keeping and not a twenty three fold increase in population. What this data also shows is despite the focus given to immigration during the period Albany’s population as seen in the census was still overwhelmingly native born although how the children of immigrants factor in to the population will be addressed later.

The data set that differs from the census data is the recording of the number of churches data that gives the number of religious institutions in the State between 1850 and 1890 with divisions created along denomination. For this data the grouping was largely unnecessary as the required dividing lines already existed and the presentation of the data was the primary focus. For this five sheets were made around the growth of Catholicism as both a percentage and as a raw number with the key factor to note being that for this data set only the number of churches were measured and not congregation size leaving these numbers as an estimate of the populations religious orientation rather than a concrete measurement. The first sheet breaks down the data to focus solely on Catholic churches and goes county by county to show how new churches were constructed as a percentage over this forty year period, as an example Albany County in 1890 saw a 108.3% increase in Catholic churches while in real numbers the county went from twelve churches in 1870 to twenty five in 1890 which reflects an increasing Catholic population within the county otherwise such construction would be unwarranted. This was expressed along with sheet number five as a series of line graphs, one for each county showing percentages with no coloration required due to the fragmentation of the data along county lines. Sheet two broadens the view and shows the raw numerical increase in churches across the state over the four decades this chart shows how both Catholic as well as religious institutions across New York increased in the period and also gives a quick glance as to how large a portion each denomination was able to capture with this view giving the observer the opportunity to look at the topic without the potentially misleading ability of percentages. Instead of a line graph sheet two used a variation of a bar graph that used numbers of churches as its axis and uses color coding to differentiate the various faiths with its size determined by the number of churches it possessed and not any sort of percentage. The sheet assigned the colors randomly and it seemed unimportant to alter the assigned scheme, blue was used for Catholicism and it was sufficiently large to not require special differentiation. Sheet three breaks down the numbers seen on sheet two into a percentage with Catholicism making up 4.26% of churches in 1850 and 11.25% in 1890, the advantage offered by this view is that one can rapidly look at the numerical winners and losers of the period such as again Catholicism or the Episcopal church which rose to 10.61% of total churches in 1890 as opposed to its starting point of 6.75% in 1850. These percentages were placed into a line graph with the percentage used as an axis maxing out at forty percent as the largest church the Methodists peaked at just over thirty two percent, the lines are once again color coded using the same set as the other sheets and also having a quick color guide should the viewer need it. Sheet four also gives percentage data this time detailing how various faiths increased or decreased between 1850 to 1870 and 1870 to 1890 by showing the number of churches as an increase or decrease from the previous data point for example if an institution had 20% more buildings in 1870 than in 1850 then the chart would read 20% on the 1870 point. What this offers is to detail how even as most of these organizations were expanding which churches were growing above or bellow the average rate. For Catholicism the increase looks deceptively like a drop off between 1850 and 1870 because the chart reads a 104.5% jump in 1850 and only a 26.4% increase by 1870 in terms of raw number however a 20% increase on top of a 104% hike is still enormous growth over just two decades and what makes the numbers even more impressive is that between 1870 and 1890 the rate once again spikes showing a 97.2% positive meaning that at no point over this four decade time span did construction of new Catholic churches decreases and in fact the church maintained at least double digit growth for forty years which any former business major can tell you is staggering. What is also apparent by this pattern of construction is that if the church commissioned so many new buildings there must have been demand in terms of increasing congregations to justify the expense in land acquisitions and construction to bring about this physical growth as basic logic will state that no organization will construct buildings to lay empty on that kind of scale and while it is doubtful that the majority of these projects were on the scale of a structure like New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral the fact remains that to grow their structural presence in an area at such a scale there must be a growth in followers to support it. The final observation from sheet four is that by the time it gets to the 1870 to 1890 gap Catholicism in terms of growth has risen to the top of the list beating out its nearest competitors by over twenty percent and while the data available cannot speak to the growth of congregation size the comparison of construction during the time period shows that as the nineteenth century was coming to a close Catholicism was expanding its physical capacity and holdings at rates beyond other faiths in New York meaning that if this pattern could be sustained then as time passed Catholicism would continue becoming a progressively larger portion of not just religious buildings in New York but the population as a whole. The final sheet, sheet 5 on the first data set takes the overall numbers seen on the other sheets and divides them into the individual counties of New York to show growth or loss for each area, for the purposes of this paper other churches were excluded from this break down of the state to show how Catholicism either grew or shrank between 1850 and 1890. The data is displayed in much the same way as sheet number one but rather than showing a county by county breakdown as a percentage sheet five displays the straight numbers of Catholic churches with once again there being no real need for color differentiation and are displayed with a numeric axis. The results are overwhelmingly in support of growth while the lines are somewhat skewed by the major urban counties like New York, Kings, and Eire pushing the range beyond most of the smaller counties making the lines appear close to the bottom of the graph. Even with the distortion caused by the major population centers in the smaller counties of New York the general trend heavily favors growth. This defeats a potential critique of some of the large picture sheets seen in the data set, that the growth seen in the data could just be the result of major growth in a select few urban areas with large immigrant populations, the growth across the vast majority of counties shows that even beyond the areas that traditionally hold the attention of those viewing nineteenth century immigration there was growth of Catholic institutions. This ranges from an increase in churches in areas that had existing Catholic structures to counties that in 1850 had no Catholic churches gaining them by either 1870 or 1890. With the already established ties between the Catholic Church and late nineteenth century immigration this growth can represent immigrant populations moving beyond the major influx centers and into the more rural areas of the state because as stated with chart four the expansion of physical buildings is a logical sign of expansion of followers.

With the data sets and what they can convey established the time has come to return to the original three questions, starting with the growth of the immigrant population. With the 1860 census we see Catholic immigrants represent just over twenty three percent of the sample population which dwarfs the approximately four and one half percent that fall into the category of Protestant immigrants with both groups being dwarfed by the seventy three percent of native born persons. Two decades later we see an evolution in the numbers, excluding the twelve percent made up by German immigrants wee see Catholic immigrants at fifteen and one third percent of the sample size with Protestant immigrants at four and one half percent leaving at natives at a hair over sixty seven percent. This is where the analysis of data becomes critical, if one simply reads the numbers it appears that the target population is decreasing but basic number crunching fails to take in to account several factors, first that the 1880 census is an exponentially larger sample size as both the overall population of Albany increased and the census was more effectively taken. Next that while it is necessary to segregate the German population because of the aforementioned religious complexity of that nation if even half of the German immigrants of the period come from Catholic areas of Germany which is a more than reasonable assumption then the percentage goes up to twenty one percent. If three quarters of the German immigrant population was Catholic which is easily within the possibility sphere then the overall Catholic population hits twenty four percent which climbs the stats to within margin of error of the 1860 census in terms of percentage. Finally what one can determine is that naturally the immigrants who arrived in Albany by the time of the 1860 census would have had children over the course of twenty years and said children would be born in Albany so when counted in the 1880 census would fall into the native born category so as long as the birth rate in Catholic immigrants was above two per family which is another safe assumption then the Catholic percentage of the native population would rise so even as immigration either stayed flat or decreased the areas Catholic population could continuously increase which in short is a demonstration of a ripple effect of immigration. Because religion is not a measured category on the census it is impossible with the data available to determine the extent of this ripple effect but when coupled with the growth of Catholic churches from twelve to twenty five between 1870 and 1890 it becomes clear that is must have been significant as immigration alone cannot cover the number of churches more than doubling in a twenty year period. What all the data shows is that the answer to question one did the Catholic population increase significantly in the period is unsurprisingly yes.

With the answer to question one in hand the next step is to address question number two, did this expanding Catholic population remain in a select few areas or did they move out into the more rural areas of the state. For this question the census data has no real value as it does not move beyond the city of Albany and as previously stated does not deal with religious affiliation. This leaves the church data which with the qualifications already stated about lack of parish size still can offer insight into how various religions expanded across New York. The first step is a quick examination of both tables one and five, both tables show increases as both a percentage and strictly numerically. But this question deals with the expansion or lack of within the less urban areas of the state so the areas around New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo do not really factor into the first part of this question. Looking past these cities respective counties the trend remains solidly in favor of expansion with only Hamilton County lacking a Catholic church by 1890 with the vast majority of counties, even ones that did not have a Catholic church in 1850, having multiple churches by the end of the century. With it established that the counties of New York rural and urban alike saw growth in Catholic churches in the second half of the nineteenth century the assumption that the growth was concentrated in the urban areas is not totally unfounded in reality as the areas that saw the most numeric growth were naturally the major population centers with New York City reigning supreme rising from nineteen to one hundred and eight churches. The percentages tell another story with larger jumps in some of the less populated counties of the state but as with all percentage based examinations this can be deceiving as a zero to five increase looks much more impressive percentage wise than a ten to twenty jump. To summarize while the largest real growth was seen in the urban centers of New York the expansion of the church can be seen across the state so the perception that the immigrant population was isolated to the city is false, this is isolated to New York alone so for a more national answer additional data would be required.

The final question is essentially the big picture, while the previous questions have shown that the Catholic immigrant population expanded during the period and that Catholicism expanded in both size and area the real question is how far this expansion went by the time the nineteenth century came to a close? The first part of the equation population has largely been addressed by question one, while the immigration of the period did shift the scales the native portion of the population held the majority by a comfortable margin. While this lead was eroding as time went to what extent is difficult to determine, a way to determine the shift would be to take the immigrant percentage in 1860 use the birth rate to find what portion of the native percentage was Catholic by 1880 but with existing data this is impossible for two reasons, first that the 1860 census is such a small portion of Albany’s population to make calculating numbers from it into the larger 1880 census something of a lost cause without additional information and second that the birthrate information for the subsets of Albany’s population is not included in either census and would require additional research and data collection. To view the state wide expansion all that is really required is sheet three of the churches by county data, in 1850 Catholicism possessed 4.26% of churches in the state and forty years later had climbed to 11.25%. As previously stated this was during an era of general expansion across the various branches of Christianity in the state so for a single sect to nearly triple in size is impressive. Additionally in 1850 there were five churches larger than Catholicism in order, Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist. By 1890 only Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist remained larger and over the forty year data range all three of these institutions lost percentage points with two out of the three Baptists and Presbyterian’s losing five and three percent respectively and the Methodists largely holding fast with only a .2% loss over the forty years but had seen a three percentage drop from where they were in 1860 losing the gains they had made from 1850 to 1860. There can be only two explanations for this shift in religious representation either that the existing population shifted religious affiliations which is not the case or that the rate of immigration and the subsequent American born families of said immigrants allowed certain religions to gain representation, other winners included Judaism which went from having no recorded representation in 1850 to .89% by 1890 which could only come from immigration as their was no existing base for native birthrates to build on and the Lutheran faith practiced by Protestant German immigrants jumped from just over two to four and one quarter percent by the end of the century showing that even among Protestant faiths their was an increasing presence of immigrants as the nineteenth century progressed. To come back around while there were immense gains by the turn of the century Catholicism ended the century at just over eleven percent of overall religious buildings and no matter how much of a gain that is over the previous percentage it is still a long way from a majority of a population. So for question number three with the information available from either the city of Albany or the Churches by County it is clear that the target populations boom in size was insufficient to secure a majority.

With all three questions answered the numbers indicate several truths about nineteenth century immigration, first it shows that unlike the previous waves of immigration the mid to late nineteenth century immigrants began arriving from the Catholic portions of Europe placing different ethnic groups into the United States and in significant numbers. Next it shows that with the building of churches as an indicator that these Catholic populations went beyond the assumed urban centers and established a presence across the state. Finally however it shows that for all the demographic shifts of the nineteenth century anti immigrant fears of the United States being dominated by either these new ethnic groups or the Catholic Church were unfounded as the traditional native population maintained its majority and on a national level a Catholic would not hold the presidency until John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960. Despite the findings shown in this paper the questions around immigration are thoroughly complicated to the extent that examining a single city or even a single state does not fully answer the question of cultural evolution via immigration. While the reader can find large numbers of immigrants from Catholic Europe in New York an examination of other states particularly more land locked states would yield entirely different data. It is also from such differences in dispersion of immigrants that other cultural differences arise and can be one of the principle reasons behind the differences in the cultures of the different regions of the United States. Because of America’s unique development all regions of the United States have influences from various outside cultures, which groups settled which region en masse helped shape the states for decades to come. Regardless because of New York’s consistent place as a major economic and population center how New York’s culture was shaped is a vital piece of America’s development in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Finally as America’s population shifts out of the Northeast to the South and West the immigration patterns into the South will become major forces in shaping the culture of America in the twenty first century. With the limitations of the existing data sets apparent how would a more detailed examination of the topic find the answers not available at this time. For question number one the obvious step would be to acquire the census data for New York State as a whole rather than just the city of Albany for a more complete picture of immigration during the period, to go even further one could take this data and compare it to the census on a national level. An additional research path would be to look up which German areas were dominated by which faith, as previously stated Germany was not as religiously unified as a country like the Netherlands or Italy and due to the limited time frame the most effective option was to exclude the various areas of Germany seen in both censuses and for a more detailed paper this would need to be rectified, while time consuming this would have to be accomplished by using the German regions listed in the data and researching each ones religious background. Question two would require largely the same steps as number one but the only additional detail required would be parish size, as stated in the rundown on the churches expansion the data set accounts for only the number of churches not how many persons attended each one so to truly show how the Catholic population of New York concentrated these numbers would be invaluable, to find this data the best source would probably be the church itself which could be complicated and has no guarantees of success. Another step for question two would be to acquire a second data set to reinforce the first, for the first two data sets the US census is a sufficiently official process to stand on its own but for the church data it would be useful to have supporting documents. Question three was difficult to answer with the available information so additional sources would be vital to a more through answer to the demographic shifts in both the Albany area and the overall state, first off if information about birthrates in immigrant groups could be established the answer given in this paper would carry significantly more weight. Next the statewide census rather than just Albany would be needed for a more complete answer and finally the immigration data from institutions such as Ellis Island could provide missing details such as the average age of the immigrant populations more detail on the origins of New York’s new residents. Finally for all the questions if the paper wanted to see the long lasting effects, the most obvious source for more modern data would be later censuses beyond the nineteenth century up to perhaps the 1920’s to see more complete after effects.

The technological advances brought on by computing have rewritten how virtually all academic work is done, while the use of this tech started out and is most apparent in the sciences this is another reason that the issue addressed in this paper paints an incomplete picture, while religion is a useful dividing line for populations and can be a major force in shaping the actions on the individual as well as societal level there are numerous other factors that dictate the actions that arise from immigrant populations but this is a prime example of how the examination of historical events numerically has limitations. When conceiving this project one of the attractive aspects of using religious affiliations and national origins is that they were recorded in the data sets on an individual level or county level for the churches and can thus be divided into percentages or portion which makes for effective numeric comparisons. If other pieces of data such as political party affiliation were available then further understanding of an area could be extracted from the data sets. This again runs into the more problematic piece of numeric analysis in that the agency of the individual or individuals involved must largely be ignored but while this is a problem for digital history what is also true is that this is a reality for any type of macro analysis historic or otherwise because sometimes in order to see the whole picture certain smaller details must be ignored and vice versa. Beyond generalizing another issue not directly seen in this piece is that a great number of details around historic events that cannot be represented numerically, for the study of any history of an individual there is often little comparison work to be done at least in regards to numeric comparison with an exception being those persons with statistics attached to their accomplishments such as athletes but for individuals who work in fields with less apparent success fail states these statistics can be harder to come by unless the researcher is willing to extrapolate to some degree such as looking at a how many bills a president vetoed or other things of that nature. An unpleasant reality is that no matter how capable or advanced a new technology may be there is no such thing as a perfect research method and traditional methods have yet to be made obsolete in the digital age and until such time as all information is available digitally this will remain the case. Limited or not the view of issues such as immigration provided by numeric analysis expedited by the digitization of historical information is extremely valuable for macro analysis and historians have proved more than capable of examining the minute details of the past so while it is important to remember the limitations of this type of analysis its use should not be forsaken as each research method contains its own positives and negatives.

Final Project– Albany 8th Militia Visualizations

The title of the data set is Albany Muster Rolls 8th Militia. This set includes important numeric and text information for 945 men who enlisted in the Albany 8th Militia between the years 1760-1762. Organized by first and last name; the remaining categories include the following: enlistment date, age, birth-place, trade, company, officer, stature (height), complexion, eye color, and hair color. A muster roll is an official list of enlisted soldiers in a military company–in this case the Albany 8th Militia. The information that goes into creating a muster roll has changed over time, but in its most general form it tells the reader who served. These types of documents are used across the board for all forms of military service. Different from a standing army, a militia is an armed group of civilian soldiers who’s work is intended to supplement the army (webster dictionary). The militia is also called into actions in times of emergency.

A large portion of this muster roll is physical characteristics; showing how it is a useful tool for identification purposes. Eye color, hair color, and age all give an idea of what a specific enlisted man may look like, and the labeling of complexion are in descriptive categories of appearance having categories that describe freckles, red patches, and acne scars along with skin tone. Along with how to identify an individual by looks, is which company they serve in and the skills or trade they use to assist in the actions of their company.

This data set has a wealth of information, but it is not without its faults. The company is frequently left blank, and for best results I focused on their commanding officer. The data also has misspellings and unfamiliar and unstandardized terms used.

When working with this data it is important to keep in mind subjectivity, this list was most likely created by the militias quartermaster. The data does not give us any information about this individual and how personal opinions may have impacted the way he collected and organized this data. It is possible that it altered the way he viewed race through complexion or valued certain trades over others. It is also unknown if the terms were standard across other Albany militias or unique to this specific quartermaster.


I had originally planned to create create a network visualization using the software Gephi. In order to prep the data to be used in Gephi I created a new spreadsheet organized by ‘source’ and ‘target’ This was a two column running list of repeating names with the coordinating age, trade, birthplace, complexion, and commanding officer to each name. Unfortunately, I ran into issues downloading the software as my MacBook Air was not compatible with older versions of Gephi. I also attempted to use Palladio and ran into similar issues. After giving up on Gephi, I attempted to clean the data using Open Refine. I specifically wanted to reorganize the way that the enlistment date was set up in the CSV. I again ran into technical issues in both editing and inputting my cleaned data. After a long struggle with computers, the internet, and my tolerance threshold for technological issues I began working with TableauPublic. In TableauPublic I cleaned my data. For birthplace I grouped to the best of my ability all of the enlisted men that were born in the Americas and separately grouped those born in regions like France, England, Ireland, and Germany. The intention was to get a sense of how many men were native-born and how many had immigrated. I did run into some difficulties and was unable to group places that I could not find on a modern map or through my research. I want to make it clear that because of that, my visualizations are a loose representation of the muster roll and not precise in terms of birthplace. Other sections that I grouped like trade were far more straight forward.


Highlighted in this first visualization is the ratio of native-born versus foreign-born men serving in the Albany 8th Militia.

The regions are listed on the left and the tallied number listed on the right. I also used the gradient of green colors on the numbers to display from which regions most of the men originally came from. Again, the challenge with this specific visualization are the number of birthplaces listed that are potentially areas of other countries that I was unable to locate using a map or through my research of mid-eighteenth century geography. The benefit of this visualization is the stark numbers that show the high population of Irish, German, and English born men serving in the Albany 8th Militia.


In my initial proposal for this project I had intended to look at the construction of race through the eyes of the quartermaster, but given the lack of standardized terms and no information about the quartermaster himself I was unable to. From working with the data, it seems as though the intention of the quartermaster to include complexion was for the purpose of a clear description of appearance and not a societal statement or class commentary. For example, the term ‘pock pitted’ which is used to describe a handful of individuals refers to an individual with acne or facial scars. Men were listed as ‘freckled’, another purely descriptive word for appearances. Some men are also listed as having red patches on their skin under the terms ‘ready, ruddy, reddy’ which does’t speak to their ethnicity or social class or any means to understand the complex construction of race. Even though it cannot answer my questions on race, it is interesting the tones and textures that this individual quartermaster made note of for the muster roll. The pie chart below shows the breakdown of complexion in this data set.


Just to be sure I wasn’t missing a racial or class component I made a text table showing the connection, or lack there of, between birthplace and complexion. As you can see there wasn’t a direct link to point to racial construction based on location of birth.

Not only can we not discuss the constructs of race, but there is also no connection to say that men of different skin tones were separated into different companies. To prove this I created another text table showing how difference complexions were dispersed throughout the militia.


Moving away from the complexion component, I wanted to focus on questions that the data could answer. One of which was: What trades were important to the Albany 8th Militia? Laborer was the overall most used term under the category of trade which seemed rather vague. In order to look at more specific skills I intentionally hid that information and created packed bubble visualization of the other trades. The size of the bubble shows the amount of individuals listed under that trade.

I then wanted to see how these trades were dispersed among the militia in order to see if there was a pattern or if it was at random. Using the packed bubble visualization for trade I looked at the most popular trades listed: tailor, carpenter, weaver, cordwinder, baker, butcher, shoemaker among others. I then made another packed bubble visualization showing how many militiamen each commanding officer had. That visualization is below.

I could now look at the largest companies based on how many enlisted men were under the command of a specific officer. Given this information I then  created a text table showing what trades were listed under the four largest companies of the Albany 8th Militia.

What this shows, is that for a militia company to run as intended they need the men of that company must be equiped with some specific skills. The men had to create and maintain their resources. It was vital to the militia to have individuals to create and repair clothes and shoes. Another necessity was feeding the militia, so each company had butchers and bakers. What is interesting are the jobs that not all four of the largest companies have; all but one of the largest companies had sailors. Captain Baine who has the second largest group of enlisted men under his command was not supplied with seamen, which may point to the skills of that captain or location of that company. It is possible that they were knowingly landlocked in their movements and that sailors would be most useful serving under another officer.


As my interest in trade peaked, I went on to look at the relationship between trade and birthplace to see if there were any connections of what type of skills came from which regions of the world. This time I included the largest category of laborers in the visualization. Using a text table with birthplace on the left and trade listed on the right, I used colored blocks to symbolize the amount by size of men with each trade. Other than laborers which nearly every region provided it was interesting to see that the men of the Albany 8th Militia that were born in the colonies were cord winders, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Men from Germany were often bakers and butchers. Ireland provided weavers and tailors. There is a significant amount of overlap of types of jobs coming from different countries but it is significant to see the variety.


The biggest take-away from the research and work done with the Albany 8th Militia data set are the importance of skilled tradesmen to the militia effort, and that importance was clearly recognized by the quartermaster who collected this data. Intentionally men with different skills were strategically placed in companies that would benefit. Where the placement of skilled workers seems deliberate, the terms and placement of men based on birthplace or complexion seem at random. Again, despite my initial research questions, I found that there wasn’t a clear connection between complexion and trade, complexion and birth place, or complexion and company. Due to these findings, I focused primarily on creating visuals to represent the make up of the militia and specifically the largest companies focusing on trade, complexion, and birthplace. It shows the diversity of the companies and the importance of dividing skills amongst the companies to ensure that each group has men skilled in different areas. For example all of the largest companies have tailors, bakers, and blacksmiths. I found it interesting that the quartermaster was clearly tedious and specific in gathering individuals trade information and less structured with other topics, i.e. complexion.


Working with this muster roll I felt like I knew who these men were, what they looked like, and the jobs they performed in the militia. I wanted to build a context of history and look into why they came to the Albany area and why these men enlisted. My outside research looked at the time period and conditions of Albany in the mid eighteenth century. The geographical location of Albany gave the city importance, being on both the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers it was an important region for trade and communication within the area and most notably with New York City.  My outside research goes back before the enlistment date of the men of the Albany 8th Militia in order to understand the climate of the time. In 1753 colonial leaders began to recognize that the colonies needed their own military and political organizations and talks began about uniting the colonies in support of one another. This would be in stark contrast from their position relying on British forces for protection against French and their Native American allies. These types of discreet discussions were held in meeting houses around the colonies and were brought to the general publics attention during the Albany Congress of 1754 and creation of the Albany Plan of Union. The Albany Plan of Union, developed by Benjamin Franklin, was brought to the Albany Congress on July 10th, 1754 in front of representatives from many of the Thirteen Colonies. Unification of the colonies in against military threats were in the foremost minds of colonial leaders due to the direct impacts seen by the French and Indian War. This plan and the beginnings of war on the North American front were turing points for the history of the Thirteen Colonies, but for Albany especially due to its location in the north. In 1755, militias were being formed in Albany to march on the French fort in Crown Point by Lake Champlain. The local militias were supplemental to the British army, but still incredibly important to the war effort. During this time militias had large number of men who worked the land forcing marches north to wait until after the spring planting season. Waiting until late spring was beneficial for argiculture and it also allowed militia men to travel with more ease avoiding the snowy and muddy roads of late winter and early spring. The muster roll for the Albany 8th militia shows that between the years of enlistment all of the men enlisted during the spring months of 1760-1762. Most of those men’s trades were not specified as farmers, it is likely that their work was still impacted by the planting and harvesting seasons. Undoubtably agriculture was vital for the whole of the Albany community as they relied on steady access to resources for the community, militias, and British troops quartered in the city.


During the throes of the French and Indian War, Albany with its fortifications and hospital would see the population grow with troops, displaced refugees, and wartime survivors migrating into the region. Albany became a headquarters for the British and meeting grounds for their troops and supplemental local militias to convene before marching north on the French. Albany was also a supply port for these groups moving goods and information down the rivers. Supplies moved through Albany to forts in Lake George and Oswego. For soldiers that fell wounded or ill, Albany had the best access to medical treatment in the region. Between the war efforts and an influx of individuals moving closer to the protection of the area, the service industry grew and began to alter the local economy. The war grew an industry and Albany became a hub of activity and strategy. After a massacre in Lake George, when Fort William Henry fell, William Pitt helped to form the largest army of its time in North America to assemble in Albany. Everyones lives in the region would be touched by the war, and joining the fight was heavily encouraged. Any man living in Albany during the French and Indian War would feel this pressure. In 1759, the French were defeated and their Iroquois allies lost some political standing in the region. After the victories at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, French troops were mostly pushed out of the Albany region and fighting dwindled down to a halt. Overall the colonists of Albany saw themselves as English and a local effort was made to integrate the prevalent Dutch and English cultures. Despite this cultural attachment, local colonists grew weary of the power British troops had gained. Quartered and stationed throughout Albany, there were clearly connections between the troops and civilians living in the region. In this postwar period, one can assume the colonists were happy to be free of the French threat but also increasingly aware of a building tension between the British troops and colonists. Restrictions and taxations were placed on colonists by the British crown and enforced by troops, and unlike other foreign threats, this was embedded among them.


The experiences of the French and Indian War for Albany was altering for the region, and especially for its militia men. These citizen soldiers would be organizing and training themselves for a revolution on the horizon that they may have not seen coming. During these years they gained military experience and local leaders that would help build up the foundation of the Albany region. The French and Indian War also changed the economic climate with an increased service industry and increased trade. The political and official end of the war was seen in 1763 when the Treaty of Paris was signed, but it was only two short years later that the Stamp Act was introduced to the colonies and the rumblings of revolution were well underway. From the 1754 Albany Plan of Union through the Stamp Act of 1765, the men of Albany’s 8th Militia lived in a world with military and political tensions.


Bielinski, Stefan. “Who Fought the War.” Who Fought the War. September 10, 2001. Accessed May 07, 2016.


Opalka, Anthony. “Albany: One of America’s First Cities.” One of America’s First Cities: Colonial Albany – Oldest US Museums. Accessed May 07, 2016.


McEneny, John J., Dennis Holzman, and Robert W. Arnold. Albany, Capital City on the Hudson: An Illustrated History. Sun Valley, CA: American Historical Press, 1998.

J Cassidy Project Proposal

In the nineteenth century immigration to the United States progressively increased and compared to the previous centuries the locations that these new arrivals arrived from shifted both geographically and more concerning to more prejudicial elements in the US religiously. While anti-Semitism toward Jewish immigrants were definitely present this trend was most active in the last decades of the century and a trend that stretched further back was the apprehension about Catholic immigration to the United States particularly the Catholic immigrants from Ireland. The theory they based their ideology was that these waves of Catholic immigrants would overwhelm the native protestants and fundamentally alter the culture of the United States (and also establish a Catholic theocracy but as that obviously did not happen this paper will just focus on the population shift) and with the population data available including the 1855 census, the 1915 state census, and finally NY religion by county to determine if this prophecy came to pass (without their bias that such a population shift would be inevitably bad). The census data consists of excel spread sheets with the critical national origin data and the religion piece consists of spreadsheet data which will be mined for data relating to Catholicism. To gauge this theory the censuses will be gauged to determine the number of Irish immigrants and compare how much of a percentage of the overall area population to show immigration to the area from Ireland and then use the religion by county map to show how Catholicism spread across New York as a test case for the rest of the US.


The first question is why Irish immigrants to test this theorem and how it is or is not a stereotype to categorize said immigrants as inherently Catholic and that Irish immigration begins in the nineteenth century, both of these two facts in a vacuum are of course false but in context they hold a number of truths. In regards to the Catholic nature of the Irish the timing of said immigration is crucial, prior to the mid nineteenth century Irish immigration to the United States absolutely existed and these first Irish Americans have notable contributions to the colonial period as well as early American history there was a massive demographic as well as numeric shift at the mid point of the nineteenth century. In the 1840’s the potato crop in Ireland was hit by pestilence which lead to the Potato Famine which devastated the population with both death from starvation as well as prompting a mass exodus of individuals from Ireland primarily to Great Britain and the United States. In regards to geography this exodus included individuals from across Ireland which is important because in Ireland religion and geography are closely linked, Northern Ireland which following the partition of Ireland when the country gained its independence from Britain became the country of Northern Ireland (I think it was a little unorthodox but to each their own). How religion plays into this is that the northern areas of the country have majority protestant populations as opposed to the overwhelmingly Catholic southern portion of Ireland. How this ties back to America is that prior to the Potato Famine many of the first Irish immigrants came from the protestant north but the famine saw masses from the Catholic south depart for America marking the influx of Irish Catholics and also explaining why the data sets I chose to use being in the 1850’s and why I choose Irish immigrants as opposed to other largely Catholic populations such as Italians or Poles as Irish immigration began earlier and thus yields a wider data set to compare.


With the reasons behind my choice of figures established as well as the original question that lead to my choice in data sets and methodology what is left is to present how the data will be used to present the findings for the analysis. The two data sets that matter to the analysis are the Irish population seen in the censuses and the Catholic population within New York and to present these the two items that will cleanly and effectively lay out the conclusions are a series of charts show dispersion of population percentages and then a timeline graph showing the rates of immigration overtime which might require looking up additional immigration statistics but this will be determined later. Finally what the religions data set may reveal is how Catholic immigrants moved from the coastal entrance centers to the United States which for our state would mean New York City to the rest of the state.

Matthew Chamberlain Project Proposal

The dataset I will be working with is “Slave Sales: 1775-1865”. The data set describes the people in slavery, giving the viewer a description of where the sale posting is from, the gender of said person, the approximate age of the slave(there are some issues with this, but I’ll describe them later), any “defects”, pertinent skill, and the price of the person.

The dataset includes information that is numeric, textual, and geographic. There are thousands of people in this list from mostly Southern States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. To differentiate the states, various counties are also included, and these seem to have some importance as to where slaves with certain skills are sold. In terms of numeric values, these fit into the appraised value and age columns. The minimum values for both zero, but the maximums vary greatly. While the maximum age can go up to 99 (which is probably a reporting error of some sort due to the fact that it is unlikely that someone could live to that age during this time period), the price for a person depends on skills and other factors, and the highest price for an individual thousands of dollars (again, there was one outlier, with one listing reading 525,000, which would be more than $7 million when adjusted for inflation). The range of descriptive data also varies greatly. Gender is probably the easiest to describe as it follows a binary system, male or female. Skills, however, are either left blank, or provide only a little information about the person, saying that a slave is a laborer/field-hand, or on the other side of the spectrum, a mechanic. Then there are defects, which also account for a lot of blank spaces. These descriptors can describe real ailments such as a hernia, or crippling injuries, or just state superfluous information, like whether or not the slave is a boy, or a girl, even though it’s already listed.

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Project Proposal-Slave Sales 1775-1865

The data set I have chosen to use for my data analysis project is “Slave Sales 1775-1865”. The data included in this set includes, state and county in which a transaction took place and the gender and appraised value of an individual being sold from the Revolutionary period to the close of the Civil War and after emancipation. Other information included in this data set is skills and any physical “defect” found in a particular person. As far as types of data, there is numeric, text, and geographic information included, which makes this a particularly detailed study. The geographic landscape shown within the data places the transactions were recorded in southern states,a fact that is not surprising. This is a substantial set of data, with over 76,000 entries, so it will definitely require more narrowing of scope and number. I think that perhaps using a sample of just the 1810s-1860s, or maybe an even narrower range, perhaps 1850-1865 would be the project more cohesive.

Each column paints a particular picture of a time and place in the development of the institution of slavery in the south, and the literal human cost. Each of the rows plays an important role in forming the narrative of the dataset. From each state and county within the state, the people being bought and sold are described in the very simplest of terms, as they are no different than any other commodity bought and sold on a daily basis. We get an age, in years and months both and gender. We also know if any of these persons had special skills that could make them particularly more sought after. These include cooks and cabinetmakers, even drivers. Finally, the defects of a certain person are also recorded. Many are marked as “crippled” or old. Perhaps most interesting and disturbing is that “child” is considered a defect.

There are some relationships that come to the surface in analyzing this dataset. One that immediately comes to mind is that between skills and appraised value. It seems that those with skills did seem to be more expensive than someone who was unskilled, or perhaps a woman. Which brings another relationship worth exploring-the relationship between gender and appraised price. Did women necessarily fetch a much lower or a comparative price during sales transactions.
A third relationship that could yield interesting results and research questions is that between states and number of slave sales. In the south, did one state conduct more sales than others, or were they all near average? In looking at the data, the years and decades of the sales could also prove to show interesting conclusions. Of course a drop off in slave sales could be seen in during the Civil war, but what about before than. What sales were made during the early decades of the 1800s? I think that these relationships could effectively be shown graphically, but also using a progression map. By making this dataset interactive, the viewer can more effectively make use of the information presented.
Some difficulties that can arise when analyzing and answering these would probably come from the data itself. Though this is quite a large sample, it isn’t as detailed as other sets.There is only basic information available (ie. gender,age) that does not, on the surface create a well rounded narrative.I feel that information such as where these enslaved people came from or even a name could tell us more and create better visuals. Another difficulty is in the fact that some of the entries are missing, perhaps a problem of transcription or simply loss of records.

Project Proposal: Albany Muster Roll- 8th Militia

The data set that I will be using for the final project is the Albany Muster Rolls for the 8th Militia. This set includes important numeric and text information of 945 different men were enlisted in this local militia. Organizes by name the categories of collected information include each individual’s enlistment date, age, Militia Company, and trade. Additional information that is particularly interesting to me is the physical descriptions of these Albany men and how they relate to their place of birth. Descriptions include height, complexion, hair color, and eye color.

I believe that this data set can help discuss the construction of race in the mind of the individual that collected the muster roll. My goal is to create a visual representation of the connection between Birth Place and Complexion in order to discuss the construction of race. I will also be attempting to draw a connection between race and trade. I think it would also be interesting to look at the connection that birthplace and complexion may have on which officer they reported to in order to detect any forms of segregation based on ethnicity

There are some challenges in working with the Albany Muster Roll for the 8th Militia in that the labeling of complexion is subjective to the individual that collected the data and the terms that this individual used include: dark, swarthy, fair, brown, Indian, negro, pockpitted, freckled, mulatto, and ruddy. These terms are far from standardized and I will be interested to see if there is a clear connection to their birth origins. Another issue that I cannot ignore is the high levels of men listed as ‘laborers’, which again does not give me a clear idea of their trade. What that does tell me is that there pay be some significant importance of the trades that are specified such as: tailor, carpenter, shoemaker, weaver, butcher, blacksmith, saddler, cord winder, hatter, and others. Through the mindset of a militia these skills have deep value; or at least value to the man collecting the information. As far as the visualizations, it will be a challenge to give a full depiction of these large categories of race, trade, and origin while maintaining the legibility of the visualizations. I think relationship networks may prove useful for this project.