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.

One thought on “1940 Census Argument Draft

  • May 2, 2016 at 4:35 PM

    Your first paragraph is a good general overview, but get right in there and punch the reader in the nose with your argument! You bury your lead at the end–use an introductory paragraph to lay out the component pieces of your argument so that the reader can see the structure underlying your thesis statement.

    Re: the lack of representation for people of color, do you mean your data shows people of color in few occupations, or that there are few people of color overall?

    Your section on occupation and education is very good–what detailed support can you add here from your visualizations or numbers? How many people have each kind of education in the occupations where there are multiple education levels? Does one predominate? Is there a pattern to who has a college education (ie, by race, gender or place of birth?)

    You rhetorically back away from a lot of your arguments with language like “it is already a known fact,” etc–for things like this, just cut straight to the point–“The wage gap persists today” or “Men currently make more than women.” This trims unnecessary words to get your reader straight to the point. Related, be careful with things like “History has shown us,” “They are created,” etc–A. you don’t want to sound like you’re endorsing those views (“Women were perceived to be only wives mothers etc” makes it clear you’re talking about historical actors) and for big “all of history” statements like this, you also need citations to back you up, since perceptions of gender roles actually differ a lot across time.

    You have an interesting observation about gender and head of household–are there any women heads of household, and are there any interesting patterns with their age, occupation, education, or race?

    Really, really great observation about the clustering of racial minority families in certain geographic areas. So far as I know, the 1940 dataset is the whole city, so anyone living in city limits should have been counted. How many people of each racial group do you see? Can you see how the average income for each racial group compares either to the city average or to the white population? That might answer at least some of your questions re: white privilege towards the end. Or average education levels as well.

    Your last paragraph night be better kicked to the future research section.

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