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.

Protests and Riots in Albany, NY: Proposal

http://1) https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Morris+St+%26+Partridge+St,+Albany,+NY+12208/Washington+Park,+Albany,+NY/New+York+State+Capitol,+Albany,+NY/Times+Union+Center,+51+South+Pearl+Street,+Albany,+NY+12207/33+State+St,+Albany,+NY+12207/@42.6545579,-73.7856114,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m32!4m31!1m5!1m1!1s0x89de0a505abb8085:0x161cd85dd9ec928c!2m2!1d-73.785361!2d42.660726!1m5!1m1!1s0x89de0a4801bf9ad5:0xcad41c3810048804!2m2!1d-73.7727908!2d42.6583548!1m5!1m1!1s0x89de0a3aa5dc0b2b:0x72aed557f8df2510!2m2!1d-73.757339!2d42.652835!1m5!1m1!1s0x89de0a23955e9771:0x6c5c715665f19384!2m2!1d-73.755216!2d42.6486671!1m5!1m1!1s0x89de0a21296e006b:0xc8a1385231eacc51!2m2!1d-73.7508426!2d42.6489091!3e2

a) Our tour begins at the old site of St. Vincent Institute, a Catholic School on Morris Ave (between South Main and Partridge St) in Albany. In 1951, the girls at St. Vincent chose to protest racy outfits, specifically off the shoulder dresses, by wearing their uniforms to prom.
b) My second source brings us to Washington Park. Also during the 1950’s (1957 to be specific), a free concert was held; however, the teenaged girls at the concert did not care for the music because it was too slow. They protested by throwing rocks at the band playing during the concert. Many adults were outraged, as the concert was free, but many parents understood. They knew their daughters preferred more fast-passed music to dance to.
c) Next, we proceed to the State Capitol where protests were happening against the Iraq war (in 2005). During September of this year, many protests happened asking the government for peace. However, this protest was pro troops. One could see on the signs that many are for George Bush, who was President at the time. One sign says “Osama says… I [heart] Cindy Sheehan. Washington Post reported that Cindy Sheehan was the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. She responded by creating Gold Star Families for Peace, and began many anti-war protests (Fletcher, Michael. 2005. “Cindy Sheehan’s Pitched Battle.” Washington Post, August 13). After, the tour travels a few blocks to the Times Union Center. In 2013, parents, teachers, and students gathered in favor of NYSUT at a protest called “One Voice United.” They protested common core testing and data-collection in schools which were criticized as being corrupt. Protesters were also upset with the new system for taking away teacher’s ability to be individual. They said that this ultimately is hurting the student with public money (“One Voice United: The Complete Program.” 2013. NYSUT.).
d) My last source is an advertisement, from 1921, urging people to get riot coverage. The question still remains, why? Many things were going on in the United States during this time which could have caused aggravation. First off, there was lots going on in the United States in politics. Woodrow Wilson was completing his term as president, leading to a new presidential election. In addition, the 18th Amendment had just gone into effect in 1920, making the sale and usage of alcohol illegal through Prohibition (U.S. Const. am 18). However, the biggest factor probably was the Tulsa Race Riot in 1921. This was a riot which happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, a black man and white woman were in an elevator together in Tulsa, leading to his arrest. The Tulsa Tribune issued a report which spurred a riot (“1921 Tulsa Race Riot.” 2016. Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.). After the riot ended, about 300 were dead, 800 were injured, and 35 city blocks were destroyed. One could only imagine that this led to a feeling of national fear, leading to people wanting riot insurance. Further research will need to be done to see how this effected the Albany area.
2) Google maps estimates that this tour will take 51 minutes.
3) The theme of my tour is protests in Albany, New York. It ranges from small, sudden protests, to well organized and peaceful ones. This tour is geared towards all audiences. Some protests focus on legislation, some are geared toward society, while others are responses to other protests. These protests can appeal to almost all audiences because the issues vary so much. The advertisement from the 1920s may be a response to race riots, while the protest in the park was toward slow music and the societal norms that young girls should listen to calm, sophisticated music. I hope that others will understand how many ideas and points of view are expressed during various time periods. We, as an American society, are able to express our views in many different ways. Protesting and rallying can help to show what these ideas are and how they can exercise these ideas and freedoms available to them. I also hope that people understand that doing something small could be considered a protest, and that some many can be peaceful. I feel that with today’s media, many protests are seen as violent acts. Although some of the actions featured in this tour were violent; many were peaceful protests of people coming together, listening to music, and expressing their opinion. Albany is a prime area to protest because it is the capitol of New York State, and New York has always been known as a powerful state.
4) My first protest focuses on young girls protesting new style changes. Credit is due to the owners of the picture, which is the Albany Historical Flickr group. It shows that young girls could protest peacefully, but draw attention to their cause. One peaceful protest on my tour focuses on a pro-war protest to support peace, and the American troops. It is free to use.
5) I have to look more into my last source, the 1920s riot insurance advertisement. What was going on specifically in Albany to create riot insurance? Were riots prominent, or were citizens afraid of riots, such as the riot in Tulsa?