Global Valley

Fall 2012

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-111; Lisa Brooks (Section 01)Francis G. Couvares (Section 02)Robert T. Hayashi (Section 01)Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler (Section 02)

Questions about research in this course? Contact Dunstan C. McNutt.

  • Overview
  • Reference


Introductory presentation about the census.

The goal of this assignment is to track changes in the city of Holyoke over time from 1900 to the present. Each group will pick a specific city neighborhood designated by an intersection.

  • High/Cabot St.
  • Lyman/Bridge St.
  • Maple/Lyman St.
  • Pleasant/Lincoln St.

I. Identifying enumeration districts (Historical)

II. Browsing historical census surveys (Historical)

III. Identifying Census Tracts (?) (Contemporary)

IV. Comparing Aggregate Data (?) (Contemporary)

Historical Census Research

I. Identifying enumeration districts

Contemporary census information is gathered according to census tracts, but in the past the geography of data collection has varied quite a bit. Before searching Ancestry Library, you will need to identify the enumeration district (ED) for your intersection. Note: These EDs will likely be different from year to year, so you have to go through these steps for each year.*

  1. Go to to obtain the ED for past censuses.
  2. There is a drop-down menu at the top of the page. Select the year of interest (i.e., 1900).
  3. There is a drop-down menu to the left of the page that allows you to select the state (i.e., Massachusetts).
  4. Now select your city (i.e., Holyoke).
  5. You will now be able to select your street, and then a cross street.
  6. There should be a list of enumeration districts common to your selections, which will help you locate your street in the digitized census surveys found in Ancestry Library.

*This site doesn't seem to work for 1920. Use the following enumeration districts for 1920:

  • High/Cabot Street) Ward 6, District 62
  • Lyman/Bridge Street) Ward 1, District 31
  • Maple/Lyman Street) Ward 4, District 51
  • Pleasant/Lincoln Street) Ward 7, District 71

II. Browsing historical census surveys

Having identified relevant enumeration districts, you will now need to browse the U.S. Federal Census surveys for the appropriate year to see what information is available for your street. Note: You probably won't find your exact intersection. Rather, you will be looking in generally the same neighborhood from decade to decade. The enumeration districts ensure that you are able to find the same neighborhood.

  1. Go to Ancestry LibraryIf you're off-campus, you'll be prompted to log in; see our page for accessing library resources off-campus for more information.
  2. Hover your cursor over the "Search" tab at the top and select "Census & Voter Lists".
  3. In the "Narrow by Category" menu on the right, select "U.S. Federal Census Collection".
  4. Scroll down to the "Included data collections" and select the year of interest (i.e., 1900).
  5. In the "Browse this collection" menu on the right, select your state, and your county (Hampden).
  6. Holyoke is broken up into multiple wards, and each ward will have multiple enumeration districts (EDs). You will have to click through each ward until you identify the ED for your intersection.
  7. When you find your ED, click on the link, and that will take you into the digitized census surveys (you will likely see a pop-up window with tips for using the image viewer).
  8. You will probably need to zoom in order to find your street, which will be displayed along he left side of each census survey. Your street probably won't be on the first sheet, so you will need to browse through the pages (or images) by clicking on the right arrow icon at the top, righthand corner of the image viewer. Note: To increase visibility, you might click on the "Image Only" link at the top, lefthand corner of the image viewer.
  9. Once you have found your street, take note of the kind of data that was collected. What kinds of questions were asking? How were people categorized? Are there patterns for a given street? Note: The questions will be displayed along the top of the census survey. There is also an "Ancestry Index" below the image that provides some of the text (If you clicked on "Image Only", as mentioned above, you will need to click on "View All" to display the Ancestry Index.

Contemporary Census Data

IV. Comparing Aggregate Data

  1. Go to Social Explorer, and follow the link for "Old version available here".
  2. Under "Explore U.S. Demography", click on "Old version available here". Note: If you get an error message in Chrome, try using Firefox
  3. In the "Find address..." search box, enter: Holyoke, MA, and click on the suggested link. Once you get a map view, you can use the zoom tools to see individual streets
  4. On the lefthand side, click on "Census 2010" in order to change your variables.
  5. You can change the census year and compare (using tracts) different variables for the same geographies to see how things have changed. There are tract divisions from 1950 through the present.
  6. To make a slideshow of change over the decades, click on the "Snapshots" link at the bottom, and click on the rectangle to take a snapshot.



Be sure to check out he Library's research gide called Using the U.S. Decennial Census.

If you are interested in browsing any of the census information in print form, you should know that the Frost library has many of the decennial census volumes in print. For most years, you will be able to find information for the city of Holyoke.

Here is a cheat sheet that gives call numbers for these historical census volumes:

Locations and call numbers for the Census in the Amherst College LibraryEdit

(Some historical census data is also available through the Historical Census Browser, and from the U.S. Census Bureau's Selected Decennial Census.

[1790] Return of the whole number of persons within the several districts of the United States
    HA 201 1790.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) 310 Un4c C-1 Re
[1800] Return of the whole number of persons within the several districts of the United States
    HA 201 1800.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl)xx 310 Un4c C-2 Re
[1810] Return of the whole number of persons within the several districts of the United States
    HA 201 1810.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) xx 310 Un4c C-3 Re
Census of 1820
    HA 201 1820.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) 310 Un4c-C-4 C
[1830] Fifth census; or, Enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States
    HA 201 1830.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) xx 310 Un4c C-5 F
[1840] Compendium of the enumeration of the inhabitants and statistics of the United States
    HA 201 1840.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) x 310 Un4c C-6 Co
The seventh census of the United States: 1850
    HA 201 1840.A4; and (Arch-SpecColl) x 310 Un4c C-7
Population of the United States in 1860
    HA 201 1830.A4; and x 310 Un4c C-8 Po
[1870] A compendium of the ninth census
    HA 201 1870.A4; and 310 Un4c C-9 Co
[Census reports] Tenth census. June 1, 1880
    HA 201 1880.A4; and x 310 Un4c C-10 Vol 1-10
[Census reports] Eleventh census: 1890
    HA 201 1890.A4; and x 310 Un4c C-11 (15 volumes)
Census reports-- Twelfth census of the United States, taken in the year 1900
    HA 201 1900.A4; and x 310 Un4c C-12 (10 volumes)
Thirteenth census of the United States, taken in the year 1910
    x 310 Un4c C-13 (11 volumes)
Fourteenth census of the United States, taken in the year 1920
    x 310 Un4c C-14 (11 volumes)
Fifteenth census of the United States: 1930.
    x 310 Un4c C-15 (10 volumes)
Sixteenth census of the United States: 1940: Population ..
    x 310 Un4c C-16 Po (17 volumes)
    x 310 Un4c C-17 Po
1960 CENSUS OF POPULATION x 310 Un4c C-18 Po
    x HA 201 1970 A568 1970
    HA 201 1970.U524
    HA 201 1980e
    HA 201 1990 P 1990
    HA 201 1990 A77
2000 Census (