Exploring the 1920 Census in Boulder, CO

Saturday, January 5, 2019
Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago)
Conner Sinjem, University of Colorado Boulder
This poster uses census data to create data visualizations that provide a snapshot of the immigrant population of one specific place and time, Boulder County, Colorado in 1920. It also uses the census as a jumping-off point to delve into immigrant lives. Using historical newspapers, historical maps, and other sources, I will examine the lives hiding behind the census in this Western farming and coal mining town that by 1920 was also home to a university and a growing middle class. In scholarship as well as in the popular imagination of American immigration, urban centers of the Northeast dominate; the West, though an important immigrant destination, still gets only limited attention. This poster will examine immigrant lives in Boulder County, Colorado, which was home to immigrants from England, Sweden, Italy, Russia, and Germany. It does so in a three-part structure. First, it displays overviews of immigrant group demographics (occupation, age, family structure, etc.): who was in Boulder, what did they do, who did they live with? Then, it delves more closely into analyzing the contrasts between different immigrant groups, particularly the English and the Italians, showing how different home countries and different immigration periods shaped immigrant experience. Finally, it draws on newspaper and other sources to both dig deeper into the stories of individual immigrants and to go beyond the largest occupational groups like miners and farmers to examine smaller but significant occupations like boardinghouse keepers, teachers, and others who held central roles in immigrant communities.
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