Digital Local History: Women's Professions As Seen through US Census Records

Saturday, January 5, 2019
Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago)
Katherine Orsund, Grinnell College
The United States Census has provided data for individual family units since its inaugural year in 1790. By using available census years from 1790 to 1940, historians have the opportunity to look at the evolution of the census and with it the evolution of society’s values as seen through the census questions. By looking at the town and township of Grinnell, Iowa this poster analyzes the language of the census to show trends in women’s employment and an understanding of their work in and outside the home. While literature does exist covering women’s work in and outside of the home both in urban and rural settings, this project uses a novel technique of analyzing census records to show the changes of values on women’s work from 1850 to 1930. Grinnell offers the unique opportunity of being a farming community, with three factories, and a liberal arts college to encompass both rural and semi urban women’s employment.
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