1883 Pensioners Final Project

Data Description

For this project I chose to look at the 1883 Pensioners. I wanted to explore a data set that involved some aspect of war but with a different twist. When we look at war data it is usually casualty figures that are the main topic of discussion. People forget that for those that are wounded and the families of those killed in action, some sort compensation, a pension, is given as a way of saying thank you for your service and to help alleviate the difficulties that may result from their time in the service. The reasons for the pension can be anything from visible wounds, to psychological trauma, to the loss of the head of household—the breadwinner.

When looking at any given data set, you are almost certainly going to be given numeric data, textual data, and/or geographic data in some quantity. In regards to the 1883 Pensioners data set we are given all three. But, each is represented in a different amount. The textual data is on a very large-scale, as is the numeric figures. There are dozens and dozens of different categories for wounds. From gunshot wounds, to diseases and illnesses, to amputations, to being widowed, the list is extensive. We are also given the names of each person and the month and year of the first pension claim.

For each category that is listed, a number of sub-categories of numeric data is also given. The most interesting of which comes in the form of the monthly rate of payment received by the individual. With this number you can then twist it around to see the average monthly rate, the median monthly rate or the monthly sum. What this allows someone reading this data to do is to compare and contrast the various pension claims to see how they stack up in severity, in terms of monetary compensation. Another aspect of numeric data is seen in the number of records of each pension claim. This too allows us to see what the largest pension claim was.

Geographical data is present in this data set. However, an address is not given. Instead, it is referred to as “Post Office.” This is the city or town that the individual is currently living in at the time of pension submission. This does not provide much in terms of useful information as this list includes individuals strictly in the Capital region. If an address had been provided, we could then create a map of the city of Albany along with the various outskirts and examine just where these veterans or their families are living. Are they generally in poorer neighborhoods as is the general trend with war enlistees? Is it an area that is higher concentration African-American or Caucasian? Unfortunately, when this list was compiled they were not expecting someone to look at it decades later and attempt to create patterns and trends from it. No, it was instead meant to organize those that were receiving government pensions for their role in the Civil War.

Data Visualization 1

For my first visualization, I wanted to take a look at the number of records for claiming a pension. In this visual we will be looking at the “Number of Records” tab.

At first glance it does not look like much. I wanted to create a story that correlated with the figures that show that most of the deaths associated with the Civil War were in fact, not combat related. When I say combat related I am talking about gunshot wounds, hand-to-hand combat and artillery barrages. Instead, the number one killer of soldiers, on both sides, was dysentery (www.civilwar.org). Most of the soldiers that fought during the Civil War were from the rural countryside. They lived their lives on small mom and pop farms and interacted with only a handful of other people outside their community. When you do not have much contact with significantly larger groups of people, your immune system becomes more susceptible to contracting diseases and illnesses that others, from a city for example, would not come down with. For this reason, a substantial number of the deaths during the war were from disease as these farmers interacted with hundreds and thousands of other men for the first time. Other illnesses include smallpox, malaria and chicken pox. Because the medical field had not advanced to the point of having proper medicine to treat this diseases and viruses, large outbreaks were not uncommon with both the Union and Confederates.

While it was my initial goal to show this pattern in my data set, the opposite, in fact, developed. Now before going any further I need to emphasize something about this data set. This data is not an accurate representation of the makeup of soldiers in the Civil War, on either side. It is a rather small sample size of just under 1,000 claims. A claim does not necessary entail that they played a direct role in the Civil War, rather it could be the family applying for a pension for a deceased family member. In looking at the data in the “Number of Records” tab, we see that the largest number of claims fall under the category of Mother/Father/Minor, followed by General Wounds, Gunshot Wounds, Loss of Limb due to Combat, Disease, Injuries, Other, and lastly Amputations. According to this graph, there were a total of 918 records. 408 of these fall under the category of Mother/Father/Minor and only 51 falling under Disease. This data set is telling a different story than what the national story is. Instead of having most of the cases be relegated to be disease related, they are instead a second-party claiming the pension, for example a widow. The General Wounds are second with 215 respective cases, these being injuries as a result of chopping wood or breaking a bone. While there is a significantly large difference between claims as a result of disease or illness and being widowed, it can be safely assumed that a portion of the widowed claims are a result of their loved one dying from some sort of disease.

Process Documentation 1:

All of the groups that are represented in all my visualizations have numerous sub-categories within. For example, if you look at the Gunshot wounds bar, what you have is different types of gunshot wounds making up the 119 total claims. There are gunshot wounds to the head, face, jaw, left leg, right foot, etc. This visual is fairly new. When I first set out on this journey, this particular example was not composed of a neatly grouped list. Instead, I had every single different type of gunshot wound, disease, illness; you think of it and I probably had it listed. Now you would think that the process to create categories to house all the various wounds would be fairly simple. Well, you would be dead wrong. You see, when each reason for filing a pension claim was originally listed, there was no universal language or code to organize things. It was all dependent on the person writing at that moment. Each person had their own unique abbreviations and wordings for various items. This meant that some reasons could be grouped under more than one category. After I was able to discern what should be placed where, I chose to use the default colors that were given to me each time I dragged the “Grouped Wounds” Dimension into the table. These colored groups represented my columns. Next, for my rows, I decided to utilize the “Number of records” measure to show the amount of claims filed in each bar. It was not complete but to further show the differences between each column, I chose to show bars with higher amounts of pension claims as larger in width than those with much smaller amounts. While this makes sense, in practice it can create a problem in viewing such thin bars.

Argument 1:

As I mentioned earlier, the main argument for this particular visualization is that disease and illness were not a particularly large contributor to pension claims, in terms of this data set on the Capital region. Poor hygiene along with interacting with large groups of other soldiers resulted in numerous cases of malaria, dysentery, etc. Outbreaks within regiments were not uncommon and men would often be forced to leave the service to due being sick. This is backed up the need to apply for a pension. Because the people listed in this census are from a highly populated region in the northeast, for the most part at least, their immune systems have been able to build up some sort of tolerance to the various illnesses out there. I would argue that this is the main reason for the low numbers of disease and illness claims filed by these men and their families. This assumption is supported by looking at other pension records that are available (Google Books: 291-303). For example, if we were to look at the city of Utica in Oneida county, we would see a rather large list of wounds that pertain to injuries sustained in battle or by other means. While there are cases of diseases and illnesses, they are trumped by the various wounds. We can also look at the town in which I grew up in, Clinton, also in Oneida County. By today’s standards, Clinton is a very small village. At last check, the population was just under 2,000 so we can only imagine how much smaller it was over 150 years ago. Out of the list of pensions for Clinton, there is only one entry that claims an illness: dysentery which was the number one killer during the Civil War. But the remaining entries are either combat related or because a widow or family member is claiming the pension because they lost a family member in the war. The north was much more populated than the south during the war, same goes today as well, so it makes sense that most of the pensions were in response to wounds other than disease and illness. If you look at South Carolina, (Google Books: 184-189) a startling trend emerges. Here we see the opposite of the north. Instead of mostly gunshot wounds, we see an overwhelming number of widows and illnesses. This can be explained by the sheer number of southern males that were lost during the war as a majority of the fighting took place in the south. The south is also nearly exclusively rural, hence the hundreds of plantations, so the increase in illness cases can be explained by the weaker immune systems of the Confederate Army.

Data Visualization 2:

For my second visualization I chose to examine the role of women during the Civil War. While women have always played key roles in every conflict the United States has fought in, the exact extent to how much they can be involved has always been controversial. Only in the past few years has combat roles been opened up for women to be involved in though they are required to pass the same physical requirements as their male counterparts. But during the Civil War women played a much more behind-the-scenes type of role. Most often referred to as Camp Followers, these women did exactly as their title suggests: they followed the train of soldiers. These were women who, generally, did not have much at home after their husband, brother, father, etc., went off to war. If they had no means to sustain themselves and make money, they often followed their loved ones as they went off to war. They acted as cooks, nurses, cleaners, and prostitutes. Some even went as far as dressing up as a man (Sam Smith) and fighting on the front lines, some even died (www.civilwar.org). While they no where were close in numbers as the men, it is believed that around 500 women secretly fought in the war. Probably the most famous woman fighter is that of Jennie Hodgers, better known as “Albert Cashier” (Civil War Trust). She enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry on August 6, 1862 and would go to fight in over 40 different engagements. It is also believed that at one point she was captured by the Confederates but she broke out of prison and returned to duty. She served three years before her unit was discharged for heavy losses due to combat and illnesses. But her story does not end here. She went on to continue living under the guise of a man, collecting a pension, and would only be discovered in 1910 when she was hit by a car, though the hospital kept her secret quiet. However, 3 years later, as dementia set on she was discovered and forced to live the remainder of her life as a female. She would die 2 years later and be buried in her uniform with full military honor.

Process Documentation 2:

The creation process for this visual is nearly identical to the first. The main differences here are the different dimensions and measures that were used. I chose to have a horizontal graph for this one in order to break the data up into male vs. female. In terms of data, I included type of injury sustained, the average monthly payout and the number of cases for each category. As with the first visual, I created larger bars for the categories that included larger number of records and smaller bars for the categories that included a small number of records.

Argumentation 2:

As I have mentioned earlier in the first visual, this data set is a rather small sample size. To accurately create a significant argument, we would need to also be graphing other 1883 pensions from nearby counties. Luckily, Albany county seems to have had its fair share of females taking part in the fighting during the Civil War. Whether they were injured while fighting or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time as a camp follower is impossible to know for they may have never been discovered. In any case, what we have in our data set is 2 records of females sustaining gunshot wounds and then gaining a pension as a result. In scouring the nearly 1,000 entries, I was unable to find their names which may have led to further research and possibly finding out if they had in fact disguised themselves. Nevertheless, these two women received an average pension of $4.00 a month compared to her male counterpart whom received an average of $5.93. The sample size is way too small and distorted in favor of the men with 117 records of gunshot wounds so it is difficult to say whether they received such a low amount because they were women or because their wounds were not as severe as some of the men. In any case, they did in fact receive a pension for gunshot wounds. Even if we take out the gunshot wounds from the data, historians know for a fact that women played a key role in the Civil War. Clara Barton herself, founder of the Red Cross, was a nurse during the war. Women took on every aspect of the war that the men did including fighting and performing dirty tasks such as amputating limbs. While historians acknowledge their contributions, I do not believe classes teach how much women played a direct role in the war. Up until the Fall of senior year in college, I was unaware of the camp followers. To show that they played this large role in the war, we should be teaching more about them.

Further research Questions:

  1. Were pension claims during the Civil War and claims 20 years after the end of the war greatly differ in terms of monthly payments for similar injuries?
    1. To figure this out I would rearrange the data set in chronological order. I attempted to do this but my efforts were futile as I could not figure out how to correctly get Tableau to do it. With a lot of time on my hands I suppose I could create an Excel spreadsheet that is in chronological order and could even uncover more patterns in the data that we are unable to see otherwise.
  2. Did the pensions differ based on whether you served as a Union soldier or a Confederate?
    1. In a preliminary scour of the Arkansas, Missouri, and South Carolina pension rolls, this would seem to not be the case. No matter the wound, you received nearly the same amount whether or not you were a northerner or a southerner.
  3. Were African-American veterans afforded the same treatment by the Pension Bureau?
    1. When I first chose this data set, I was under the belief that this was a list of African-American soldiers and their families that were receiving pensions. I quickly learned the opposite, that it was probably whites that represented the bulk of the data. That is not to say that African-Americans are not present on the list, however I would imagine if they were a significant contributor to the war effort (which they were), wouldn’t the Pension Bureau have a separate column for race? Every 1883 Pension roll uses the same layout with the name, record number, cause for pension, etc. None of them include the race of the individual. So this begs the question of if they just did not deem that important enough to distinguish in the records or did they just not offer any pensions to African-American veterans. This would, of course, violate the 14th Amendment. I would bet that with some more digging, one could uncover the records of African-Americans receiving pensions, I just do not know where to look for that.



“620,000 Soldiers Died during the Civil War, Two-thirds Died of Disease, Not Wounds: WHY?” Civil War Trust. Accessed May 11, 2016. http://www.civilwar.org/education/pdfs/civil-was-curriculum-medicine.pdf.

Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed May 12, 2016. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/jennie-hodgers.html.

United States Pension Bureau. “List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883.” Google Books. January 1, 1883. Accessed May 11, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=aLkqAAAAMAAJ.

United States Pension Bureau. “List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883.” Google Books. January 1, 1883. Accessed May 12, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=t7oqAAAAMAAJ.

Smith, Sam. Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed May 12, 2016. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/untold-stories/female-soldiers-in-the-civil.html.


Slave Sales 1775-1865.

Data Description

The data set for the Slaves sales from 1775 to 1865 holds the information of individual slaves, their gender, and information considered important for potential slave buyers. The data can be considered numerical, textual, and geographically information. The numeric information for the data set is columned by the age of slave in years and month, the date of the entry of the slave, and the slaves appraised value. The two columns that describe the slaves age in years, the youngest being 0 years old, to the oldest being ninety nine. The column for age in months is empty throughout the entire data set. I can argue that the months column is completely empty because infants were rarely bought, and sold with in the slave trade itself. For the date of entry column the beginning date is 1775 and continue through 1865, although the data set itself is all over the place with which particular year a slave was sold. The column regarding the appraised value of a specific slave has variation based on the age, skill sets and defect of the slave. I can also argue from studying the data set that gender also played a major role in the appraised value for a specif slave, as well as the geographical location that a particular slave was sold in. The textual information for the data has text data with in the columns that include any defects that each particular slave may or may not have, and any skill set that some of the particular slaves may or may not acquire. The defects column of the data set included terms such as “runs away” or “deaf”, and the columns for skill sets include terms such as “house servant” and Laundry”. The textual information tends to be historical accurate in proving how real racism was, not just between the years of 1775 and 1865, but through out American history. The geographical information only has two columns; State and county. The states include Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and Mississippi. The columns for county include all the counties with in the specific state. All the areas associated with this data set are southern states, some of which would succeed at the beginning of the Civil War to protect their institution of slavery, that they strongly believed was a given right.

Visualization one

The first of my data visualization is meant to show the correlation between the age, and gender of a slave, and their average appraisal price. This visualization makes me question not only the institution of slavery, but also sexism with in slavery. The varying prices between age can be, although horrifying, expected, but the variation between the genders of a particular slave seem unjustified.
The average peaking value for a female slave from the years of 1775 to 1865 was at the prime age of twenty two, with the average price of $566.9. The value of a female slave drastically declines after the age of twenty nine, and again at the age of thirty nine, although there are a few unexplained outliers. The lowest average value for a female slave from the years of 1775 to 1865 was at the old age of ninety, with the average price of $9.4, females at the age of one were valued more then elderly females at the average price of $71, although one elderly female slave was appraised at the average value of $800.0 at the age of 79. I can argue from reviewing the data set of the Slave sales that females slaves were ideally in their prime at the age of twenty two until thirty nine for work purposes, and more likely breeding purposes. Women were not value as high as men though, for obvious reasons such as labor, and strength.
The average peaking value for a male slave from the years of 1775 to 1865 was at the prime age of twenty nine at the average price of $795.1. The value of a male slave begins to drastically decline after the age of forty three with the average appraised value at 609.6, although like the female data, there are a few outliers within the data sets. For example, eighty four year old man was appraised at the average value of $227.5. The lowest average appraised value for a male slave was a ninety nine year old whose appraisal value was $19.6.
The data set of the Slave Sales from 1775 to 1865 shows the range of values for a set of slaves sold in the states of Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. A closer study of the Slave Sale data set from 1775 to 1865 revealed a pattern between the value of a slave, their gender, and their age, only after I excluded the unknown ages of specific male, and female slaves within the data set. I found the average value for specific slaves varying on their gender, male or female, and their age ranging from age one to age ninety nine.

Process documentation

For my first visualization I created I decided to use a dot graph to show the variations between the price of a gender, and the age when slaves were being bought and sold in the years of 1775-1865. I chose the dot graph because it clearly shows the decline in average appraisal price as a slave in the slave trade aged. I chose the color blue to represent the male slaves, and the color pink to represent the female slave because these specific colors are always associated with the genders. I thought the colors would intensify my argumentation of how racism, and sexism went hand and hand in the years prior, and after 1775 to 1865.

Visualization two

For my second visualization is meant to show the “defects”, the gender of the slave with the “defect”, and the average appraisal value for this specific “defect.” I am using quotations around the word defect in this sense because certain “defects” in this visualization are not considered defects by today definition. The range of “defects” in this data set include thing such as: very tall, short, crippled, one handed, missing fingers, broken back, and etc. Other “defects” include things such as: lame, idiot, dirt eater, dumb, deaf, drunk, nursing a child, and etc. The highest appraisal value for a female in this data set is $800.00 with the “defect” of being deaf. The highest appraisal value for a male in this data set is $866.70 with the “defect” of having a broken back. The lowest appraised value for a female in this data set is $30.00 with the “defect” of being sick with cancer. The lowest appraised value for a male is $5.00 with the “defect” of being deaf. I can only argue that the female with the defect of being deaf is appraised at a higher value because she is either younger then the male, or is still able to communicate while being deaf because typically throughout the data set male slaves are always value higher then females. I chose to show the “defects” with in the range of genders to reiterate my first visualization of how sexism, and racism went hand and hand prior, during, and after the years of 1775 to 1865.

Process documentation

For my second visualization I created a bar graph that is brightly colored. The bar graph is again separated into the genders of male, and female to shows the difference in appraised value between “defects” and genders. The brightly colored bars within the graph are meant to show the wide range of varying “defects” that the slaves being sold were labeled with. The bars also show the appraised value of each slave with the “defect” and how each “defect” was compared prices wise to another.


The argument for my first visualization, as well as my second visualization is centered around how sexism, and racism went hand and hand in the years of 1775 to 1865. For both male, and female slaves slavery was an absolutely devastating experience, but the circumstance of enslavement were different for both the male, and female slaves. Although most planters in colonial North America favored robust young men as slaves, the bulk of these were shipped to the West Indies, so early on, slave buyers turned to purchasing female field hands, who were not only more readily available, but also cheaper. In fact, because skilled labor, such as carpentry and blacksmiths, was assigned only to male slaves, who were also more expensive because of the skill set, so the pool of black men available for agricultural work was further reduced. During the time period of 1775-1865 Women slaves were considerably cheaper, than a man that was their exact same age for what I believe to be attributed to strength, and after further research different types of work. One thing the data set does not tell me is what specifically each slave was being brought for whether it be plantation work, a house maid, or a stable hand. Appraisal value could have most likely varied between the job each slave would be doing, and the geographical location of that job. No matter the circumstances sexism was embedded into the context of slavery, and racism. Whether a female was considered less appealing for a job because of strength reasons, or job details in my opinion in that era even if a woman was equal to a male, the male would still have been sold for a more considerable profit simply based on his gender.

The argument for my second visualization again revolves around sexism, and more so for this data set the historical racism that it presents to use. The “defects” column of the data set ranges from what would be considered disabilities in today’s world such as: deaf, blind, broken back, one hand, cancer, or crippled. The “defects” with in the data set that show the historical racism that was involved in the slave trade include: dirt eater, dumb, idiot, complaining, bad character, runs away, steals, and insane. These “defects” show how lowly the slave trades thought of their slaves, but shows me that during an excruciating time some still had the urge to fight for their independence. In today’s time the idea that slave had a “defect” because they run away, steal, complain, or have a bad character means that specific slave had the will to stand up against their owner. In the years between 1775 and 1865 the slaver traders did not see things so positively though, these “defects” seriously declined the price of a slave. Along with the first data set, females with “defects” were considerably less costly then a male with the same or more extensive “defect.” Again showing how in the years prior, during, and after 1775-1865 that sexism, and racism were two institutions that coexisted together.

Further Questions:

The first question prompted by my data visualization is what time of work each slave was going into. I would like to further research this so I can properly compare the appraised price of each slave, and further learn why two of the same aged, and skilled slaves could be appraised for different values. In my opinion this would help my complete understanding of the slave trade, and how in the years of 1775 to 1865 it worked. The second question prompted by my data visualization is if a “defect” such as a dirt eater was racially driven, or there is a historical explanation behind why a slave would be actually be eating dirt. I would like to know if it was a religious exercise, or something culturally driven. The third question prompted by my data set is why specifically some elderly slaves were valued higher than some slaves considered to be in their prime of life. Is it because a slave at the age of eighty has been a slave for a long time and was setting an example for the younger slaves, or simply for educational purposes for the other slaves? The final question prompted by my data set would be why in specific geographical locations did the appraised value of slaves vary so much? Were slaves valued higher in different states in the United States because of different work loads, or during this time period was one state booming more then another?

1940 Census Argument Draft

When looking at any historical information, you may see a pattern regarding disparities based on societal factors. The 1940s census provides information on a select number of people living on neighboring streets, their marital status, income, gender, education level, occupation, age, and more. Demographic data is a good way to track populations, but requires good observation to find correlations within the data. The patterns we see today are presented in the census once we create visualizations. There is a distinct trend in the societal differences based on class, gender, and race. Three main points within this argument are that men make more money than women, the higher education obtained, the better the occupation is, and the presence of white privilege/lack of representation for people of color in any data.
The first trend within the argument is education levels influence occupations. The census data lists the number of people who have either attended elementary school to college. Although several names have no information regarding the highest level of education received, a pattern is still present. There is a subset of data that shows people who have only completed elementary school with an occupation as an unpaid family worker, wage or salary worker, janitor, or laborer. Those with only high school education had similar jobs, or some more advanced such as beautician, attendant, and typist. College education residents in Albany were lawyers, civil engineers, stenographers, and accountants. Those job titles/careers advance as the education level increases, showing the value society has always places on receiving a higher education. The 1940s census does however, lack a large amount of occupations for residents. People in Albany overall did not attend college. You also see that many people that have an elementary school education hold the same positions of those who attended college. Today, that same issue applies, where people attend college and do not always immediately find work in their desired career. Also ten years prior to 1940, the United States went through economic turmoil. This can have an effect on people who worked in state, local, and financial offices that may have lost their jobs during that time.
The second correlation found within the census is the difference in income based on gender. It is already a known fact that men make more than women today. History has shown us that society has trained women to be comfortable in the household. They are created to be wives, mothers, and attend to duties in the home. All of this work fulfilled and even when doing so, that work is still not measurable to work for pay. When visualized in a bar chart, you can see men made more than women. The census does lack information on occupations for women. The marital status also plays a role, as you can see who is married versus who is the head of the household. Typically, the relation to head of household for women is wife, mother, or daughter. The men would be the head of the household or the son. Both the head and the son still would have occupations listed in the census more frequently than women during this time.
The last pattern within the argument is racial disparities that continue to exist. With a simple glance at the census, it is clear that over ninety percent of the population in Albany was white. It is uncertain if people of color were undocumented purposely, or they simply did not reside in Albany. Three other races were present in the census: Chinese, Filipino, and Black. Based on their demographic information, they all lived on Fleetwood Avenue or Vanschoick Avenue. Their education levels, occupations, and income varied. The data alone does not show if one minority was more established financially than others. It is however a small sample of information to make any major conclusions. By assessing the information, you can question whether the area in which people of color lived was worse financially, safe or unsafe, encouraged or lacked opportunity for growth in comparison to the neighborhoods where white people resided. Those factors are a part of the present struggle of equal opportunities for all races today.
There are other correlations that can be made with the census data. You can compare martial status to head of household, immigrant status and occupation, home ownership and income, gender and employed for pay/non-pay. The census is simply surface material, yet can unveil many trends about populations in specific areas. These patterns are not new findings to how society is run today. They give additional information for how these patterns came to life.

Argument for Visualization Number One

Slavery –the practice or system of owning slaves (Random House Inc., 2016). Such a system served as a pillar of the U.S. economy and social structure. By 1850, slaves in the U.S. were worth 1.3 billion dollars. Or in other words, American slaves were worth one fifth of the entire nation’s wealth (Goyette, 2014). Such information makes sense of the data that is displayed in the slave sales data set. It’s easy for people to think about how rich America’s history is, but how often do these people think about the hands that made it great? From the Caribbean to the mainland slaves hands were goldmines. Cotton wouldn’t have boomed without people to grow, harvest, and pick it. Tobacco would be a delicacy if lives weren’t stolen and then bought in order to harvest it. These statements ring true for many of the goods produced by slaves. This may be contrary to popular belief, but the American Economy must have depended on slavery for the better part of its history before the start of the 20th century. As a result, slaves were in high demand. But the question is –which slaves were in high demand and why?
According to measuring worth, a slave’s value was truly the value of the how much they’re expected to produce (Williamson and Cain, 2011). In other words the value of a slave was not really the slave’s value per say, but the value of the service that they could provide. For example, an elderly woman wouldn’t be expected to produce much, especially if she has any outstanding physical condition (or “defects”) such a missing finger or cataracts. As we see in this data visualization, males were clearly expected to produce more because generally, more money was spent on males. In Louisiana, males that were between the ages of 15 and 44 had the highest values and men within the 24-35 age-range held the peak values. As for females, those in the approximate age range of 14-33 years old held the highest value. This is no surprise, since these are typically a female’s peak child-bearing years (Williamson and Cain, 2011). Slaves weren’t only valued for what they could produce in the fields, but for their skills as well. Premiums were paid for slaves that had artisan skills such as cooking, carpentry, and blacksmithing, among other domestic skills. On the other hand, a slave’s value was depleted if they had characteristics or deformities that would inhibit their production such as drinking, being crippled, or being a frequent runaway (Williamson and Cain, 2011).
The spreadsheet itself uses appraised values that are generally under one thousand dollars. However, if we were to convert these prices to what they’d be today, the average range for which a slave would be sold would be 12 thousand to 176 thousand dollars. In other words, a slave was worth anywhere between the price of buying a used car and a mortgage. For example, a slave that would be sold for $400 in 1850 would be worth about $82,000 today. (Williamson and Cain, 2011). For slave owners, perhaps foregoing purchasing a home or another luxury item was worth investing in a few decades worth of slave services that would have a major return in the long run.
Though all states in the slave sales data set purchased slaves to some degree, the massive amount of capital spent on both female and male slaves by Louisiana is strikingly higher than the other states. Louisiana was most likely subject to the other factors such as the cotton boom that justified the desire across the country for slaves in their prime. If this is the case, why was Louisiana so much more passionate (according the data visualization) in the buying of slaves? At the top of the 18th century, Louisiana was the resting ground for only ten people of color. However, the French imported about six thousand slaves in Louisiana (Whitney Plantation). After the Seven Years War that concluded in 1763, Louisiana was occupied partly by Britain and partly by Spain. Subsequently the territory was reopened to large scale imports of slaves. By 1795, about thirty years later, the amount of slaves ballooned to almost 20,000. A few years later in 1807, the Atlantic slave trade was prohibited. However, this didn’t stop those that were persistent about sustaining slavery. Thousands of slaves were smuggled into the territory from Africa and the Caribbean illegally in addition to the domestic slave trade in the upper southern part of the U.S. If we fast-forward towards the end of the data visualization in 1860, there were over three hundred thousand slaves in Louisiana and nearly 20,000 free people of color.
In the time period that the slave sales data set spanned, Louisiana had avid reasoning for demanding so much slave labor. While the territory was under French rule, the services that slaves provided varied and the territory was highly dependent on slave labor. Such tasks included cooking, hulling rice with mortars and pestles, carpentry, and raising cattle (oxen, sheep, cows, and poultry among other animals). Female slaves also took care of their master’s personal task of caring for their children. Though aiding in raising their children mad a masters life easier, the mass importation of slaves gave masters a new lease on life. Wealth was easily in a master’s reach with the slave trade (Whitney Plantation).
Coupled with indigo production, the mass importation of slaves gave masters a more prestigious standard of living. Another reason for Louisiana’s higher dispensed capital for slaves is indigo production under Spanish rule. Females were a main part in raising indigo crops and males extracted them –which makes sense of why the territory spend large amounts of capital on both females and males (Whitney Plantation).
Slaves were a part of American culture for centuries, and part of that time is covered in the slave sales data set. The U.S. depended on slaves for their free services in order to make capital. So much so, that they were willing to shell out what would now be thousands upon thousands of dollars on slave labor because of its returns. Where would the U.S. be on a global scale without slave labor? –A question that can answer itself.


Slavery. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/slavery (accessed: April 25, 2016).

Goyette, Braden. “5 Things About Slavery You Probably Didn’t Learn In Social Studies: A Short Guide To ‘The Half Has Never Been Told'” The Huffington Post. October 23, 2014. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/the-half-has-never-been-told_n_6036840.html.

Whitney Plantation. “Slavery In Louisiana.” Slavery In Louisiana. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://www.whitneyplantation.com/slavery-in-louisiana.html.

Williamson, Samuel H., and Louis P. Cain. “Measuring Worth – Measuring the Value of a Slave.” Measuring Worth – Measuring the Value of a Slave. 2011. Accessed April 26, 2016. https://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php.

Final Draft Religion in NY

For my final project of this class, the visual data that I have chosen to use provide insight on the number of churches within a denomination within a county in New York. This data was collected every ten years starting in 1850 going through 1890 but did not include 1880. To depict these number I used geograph graph of New York  and bar chart to show to show the data set. The vibrant colors of each graph appeals the eye’s, as you look at the information presented, you can see that some of the information correlates with one another to tell a story. A bar graphs create distinctions when look at the bar chart a person’s eyes will focus colors but another factor will be the length of the bars is helps the viewer understand what is going on. I chose to use the bar graph as my visual because its gives the audience the sheer number of churches that were in New York during 1850-1890. Unfortentual by using this bar chart it shows the total number of churches in a denomination, it doesn’t break down even further by showing in which counties these churches were located. This bar chart is not a standard graph with one set of bars, rather four small bar charts because of years the data set was collect put into one massive bar chart. Though I believe  that it gets the point across visually without having the audience look at spreadsheet prior in order to analyze the data that is being presented to them. I chose the palette colors because it was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. For my bar chart I would rather have the lengthen of the bars tell a story than the colors. In context during the course of fifty years the promett denomination that thrived in New York was the Methodist and the Baptist and Congregational. Almost double in size by the start in 1850-1890. I believe that this increase of church correlates with Immigration that was going during this data set was collected. The first waves of immigration to the United States happen in 1840-1860. These immigrants were mostly Irish and German. The second wave develop in 1880-1940 around where are data set stopped. The immigrants that were arriving to the United States were mostly eastern and southern europeans. During the first wave on average about 2.4 million came to the land of opportunity. For the second wave on average about 5.2 million came to America. This example the sudden increase Judaism at the end during the 1890. Because Judaism is a promett religion is the eastern and southern parts of europe. Further research question I have is why is the Quaker churches slowing decreasing in number? Because of this influx of immigrants why did the Dutch Reform stay close to the same number through the fifty years?

Draft Story

For my final project I will taking a look at the Slave Sales from 1775 to 1865 data set. Specifically the values of slaves in regards to a skill they possess or a defect they might have. When looking closely at the data set it contains information detailing what you’d expect to find; like age, gender and appraised value of a slave. What I find to be interesting about the data set is it includes skills and defects something I would not have considered. With this information there are more factors that are incorporated into the sale of a particular slave. I believe there are connections regarding the prices of slaves within a particular state possessing a particular skill and which gender the slave happens to be. The females and males tend to have gender specific roles in terms of skills they were labeled with. The men have skills like mechanic, and field laborer and with that their appraised value shows, women have skills such as cooking and baking as well as housework and hairdressing and their appraised value shows as well. While some of the men and women have share skills there are differences that find it harder to compare value based on the skill. However, the defects tend to run along more similar lines. Both men and women share similar defects like, height whether it is too short or too tall, loss of hearing, loss of sight, and any type of sickness including hernias, cancer or just a general label of “sick”. There is also common trends of labeling defects as run away, drunk or fits meaning they are difficult to deal with. From these defective labels you see a shift in appraised value. A drunk man is appraised around $425 where an appraised drunk female has and average value of $300. Maybe not such a shocking revelation seeing as today there is a gender wage gap, however, it became interesting with such defects like, without fingers, a male without fingers is appraised nearly twice as much as woman without fingers, same as a man with cancer compared to a female with cancer.
What I found most interesting or should I say troubling with this data set is the way I read it. At first glance it was troubling to see. These are people and these are children given a price and given a skill or defect and then sold. We all know the horrors of slavery but when you are asked to put it in a bar graph or pie chart you become removed from the fact that these were people and not just numbers on a page. That’s why it’s so important to remember what the numbers really are, and tell the stories of what the numbers are telling us.

1940s Story Draft

The 1940s was a time where the U.S slowly recovered from the Great Depression. New York specifically since then has maintained the number one spot for highest population since the early 1900s. Looking at demographic information of residents in Albany, New York in 1940 can tell various stories. The addresses, marital status, race, and education are the few parts of the census that raise questions regarding the lifestyles of people in this particular year. Was the residential area rural or urban? Were people financially stable? How did levels of education effect future endeavors? This visualization focuses on how education levels effect occupation decisions.

Initially looking at the data, it is unclear in figuring out who was enrolled in school for that year, and the kinds of occupations at the time. You must take into consideration age, and filter which jobs have different spelling, but are the same title. After making those changes, the visualization shows the variations in occupations and the education background one possessed in that field. The information is represented through a bar graph with a colored key to indicate whether the person attended college, high school, or elementary school. For each occupation there are numerical distinctions for how many people in 1940 worked in the same occupation.

Before looking at the occupations, the census does provide addresses of people in Albany. With some research, I found that Fleetwood Avenue and Cardinal Avenue were in the Whitehall area of Albany. This shows that these residents lived in close proximity of each other, yet obtained various jobs. For example, two people that live on Fleetwood Avenue both in their late 30s/ early 40s white, male, and highest education level is high school. One has a career in sales, while the other is an electrician. You can then compare those two people to a woman in her early 40s, married, with the highest education received in elementary school. Her occupation is not listed in the census.

The comparisons stated show us that creating one story can then lead to others. Were women still suggested to stay in the home in 1940? If she obtained higher education, would she be working?

Looking back at the visualization, something interesting within the story is the placement for those with no educational background. Most work in the same field as those that have went to high school and/or college (housekeeping, inspector, etc..). The highest number of jobs with varying educations obtained were wage/salary workers in government and private businesses, proprietors, owners, laborers, and inspectors. These occupations are closely related to either working for the government or working for themselves. We can build the assumption that this area of Albany is more suburban with many small businesses. Albany today is assumed to be very government orientated because it is the capital, yet many parts in the downtown region do support this assumption created from the data. A final observation following the census is the wide range of jobs that were surprisingly held at the time, especially following the economic downtown a few years before.

Visualization due 4/14

The dataset that I chose was Slave Sales from 1775 to 1865. I decided to focus more on the sale of children during that time period. I decided to do so because I want to learn more about what it was like being a child growing up during slavery, or being born into slavery. It is estimated that approximately 1/4 of slaves that crossed the Atlantic into slavery were children. Many were forced to move, unwillingly, from plantation to plantation, never truly having a home after being taken from their mothers at a very young age. When learning about slavery in many classes that I have taken, there has never been an emphasis on the children that were involved. My objective is to use this dataset, as well as research, to put an emphasis on children and their experiences during this time period. I took the dataset and condensed it to what I’m more interested in and found some very interesting facts. The first thing I found was that while many children of different ages came from the same states, each individual age tends to come from a specific county in that state. For example, 8, 9, and 10 year olds in this dataset all originate from the county of Anne Arundel, Louisiana. Meanwhile, most of the 15 year olds on the dataset come specifically from the county of Edgecombe, North Carolina. I’m not sure as to why this is, but am interested in finding out more. I would think that every age would originate  from every county.

The second interesting finding was that from the ages of 2 years old to 17 years old the prices vary. I thought that the older that the child was, the more valuable that the child would be, and therefor buyers would pay more money. You would believe that the more work that can be done by the child, the more expensive they would be and have more value. Matter of fact, the children that were valued the most were from the ages of 2 years old to 7 years old. After that, 14 and 15 year olds were valued the highest. At the age of 14 many of the children  had picked up useful skills, like being a laborer or fieldworker. With skills that were useful to buyers, the age group of 14yrs old was the highest valued, at an average rate of being sold for $540.23. By the age of 16, the average value of children went back down to $199 based on the dataset. The county of Charlestown, South Carolina doesn’t have any listed prices, so that may add to why the average is so low. The visualization below shows all of the average values of different ages of children from the age of 1 to 17 years of age.

All of this information came from the dataset alone. What’s very sad is that many children are at risk for becoming very ill when they’re made to work in terrible conditions. At first, many people avoided having children slaves because they felt at risk because they didn’t want them to become ill. When the demand for more slaves in the Unites States increased, so the beginning of child slavery. The dramatic increase in the need for children slaves didn’t happen until the late 17th/ early 18th century.

19th century African American war pensions in Albany, NY

My initial goal entering this project with this data set was to create a visual that would show how pensions progressed over the century (1806-1883). While I was unable to accomplish this for my initial “rough draft,” I do believe it is possible. I encountered issues immediately as the dates are not in chronological order within the spreadsheet. Instead, the data had been entered in alphabetical order based on the recipient’s name. While this is the correct way to do this for official documentation, it poses an issue for someone like me that hopes to find trends in the data. Another problem that was readily apparent was the lack of explanation describing the wound or reason for receiving a pension. While most of the descriptions are easy to interpret, some are difficult to discern and makes analysis a bit more troublesome.


For my first visualization, I decided to keep things simple. On the left hand side you will find the various wounds and reasons for receiving a pension. The columns represent the average amount that was paid out on a monthly basis. I also sorted the data from the highest monthly payment through the lowest. By looking at the data this way we can see that a soldier who, as a result of either a combat injury or other military related accident, came to become fully blind. He received, on average, $72. This of course fluctuates when looking at each individual case but what I am interested in is the average. To put this into perspective, using an inflation calculator, we can see that in 1845 (using this as a mid-point), $72 would have the same buying power today as $1849.28. It is important to take this with a grain of salt as statistics are not readily available pre-1913.


By looking at the various dates of allowance, we can conclude that most of the injuries sustained were a direct result of the Civil War (1861-1865). The many different gunshot wounds received shows that not only were African-Americans involved in the war in some capacity, but that they were actively involved in harsh fighting on the front lines. The people listed in this census are only ones that live in the Albany, NY region and who actually submitted a formal request for a government pension for their injuries. 921 names are represented on this census. Imagine the number of African Americans that did not sustain injuries and are from other locations scattered across the many states. Just by thinking of this, we can conclude that not only did African Americans fight in the war, but they made a large contribution to it as well.


As a final note, in my final project I hope to have my copy of the census worked out to be organized in chronological order rather than alphabetical. I believe this will help paint an interesting picture that will help show how one injury may receive less, or more, compensation than that of one reported decades later.

Final Project Story Draft Due 4/14

The visual data that I chose to use to describe the slave sales data set is a graph. Graphs with entities separated by color are more appealing to a person’s eye in general, and their mind automatically notices the difference in volume of each color, or lack thereof. For example, if a person sees a pie chart that is 75 percent red and the remainder is green, they’ll automatically wonder what the red area represents and why it’s so plentiful. On the other hand, colors in bar graphs create distinctions, but the length of the bars is what tells all. Where the z-axis is placed (on the bottom, side, or top of the graph) also has an impact on what viewers’ perception. An x-axis that’s on top as oppose to on the bottom typically has an adverse effect at the first glance compared to if it was on the bottom because it looks as if numbers are decreasing as the bars decrease in length.
I chose the bar graph lay out because it makes it seem as if certain states were forging ahead of others. Essentially, leaving them in the dust of the money they spent on slaves. This scale isn’t the typical graph, but I do think that it gets the point across visually without having to see the prior spread sheet to analyze the data. I chose the deep burgundy color because it wasn’t alarmingly red, but the burgundy resembles blood and this tugs on views heart-strings –especially in the context of slave sales.
The context surrounding the slave sales data set is the rise of the cotton kingdom. The spike in Louisiana slave purchases may be due to the expansion of slavery and cotton production, which makes sense. The raw data set itself shows that men in their prime are bought for higher prices (keep in mind that man’s prime is longer than a woman’s). Women, on the other hand, are of more value when they are of age to bear children and their value probably deprecates so in a time when the goal is to increase production, men are probably the more ideal choice. Though child-bearing and reproduction is important, this timeline probably seems longer to a person that wants to capitalize off of cotton production high while it’s hot –wait nine to ten months for a mother to give birth and a few more years for that baby to be mature enough to pick cotton themselves. Women were still being bought at an increasing rate, while men, as we see in Louisiana, were in higher demand.
In terms of sequence, the range of the slave sales data set covers the rise of the cotton kingdom which was vaguely 1830-1861. Therefore, the increase in millions spent by the states is associated with the rise in cotton demand. Aside from natural reasons, the cotton revolution is the main reason that states in that time period spent hundred off dollars to buy quality slaves because they’d prove vital in capitalizing off of the cotton kingdom.