Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | coloured persons of Boston | Inquiry Unlimited
Where did Boston's black community live in the
Mission: Using the 1818 Boston City Directory
- In an attempt to answer this
question, we will use the Boston Directory of 1818 in a two session data gathering and map plotting activity.
We will use the 1818 Boston Directory since it was one of the directories that listed coloured persons separately. This allows us to have the entries readily available for data collection and interpretation.
The city directory was a book compiled annually to familiarize people with the City, the
business people, their businesses, where the businesses were located, and where
the business people lived.
Unlike a census, the city directory did not give an accurate accounting of the population.
Throughout these sessions, I will make reference to coloured persons as that was the term used at that time.
For Session 1, we will gather the data for where coloured persons lived and/or worked by using the Boston Directory of 1818.
For Session 2, we will transfer the gathered data to a map of 19th century Boston. The plotted dots will create a demographic map revealing a pattern of where coloured persons lived and worked in 1818 Boston.
Classroom lesson Session 1
Preparation of materials:
- Create a transparency - "Boston Directory 1818 - CONTENTS"
- Photocopy a class set ( page 1; page 2; page 3) - "THE
BOSTON DIRECTORY of 1818" which includes the title page and pages 252-254 - Coloured persons of Boston
- Create a transparency and class set of "Data Sheet - STREETS"
- 1 copy of "Answers - Data Sheet - STREETS" (includes jobs data)
- Explain to your class that for this classroom activity, we are to be historians attempting to gather information about the community of 1818 Boston. To do this, we are going to use a city directory, a primary source document, to gather and sort data about
the people, where they worked, and where they lived.
- Group the class in pairs for collaboration.
- Pass out the multiple copies of the Boston Directory you photocopied, giving one copy to each pair of students.
- Assist the class members in an oral interpretation of the title page to determine what they know about this document.
- Direct the attention of the class members to pages 252-254. Tell the class that these pages in the city directory are the coloured persons of Boston that were listed for that year. We are not using the entire Boston Directory of 1818. We are only focusing on the coloured persons.
- Model how to read a standard entry, directing the students to follow along with their copy .....
Sample 1: "John Lewis" was a "hairdresser" who worked on "Congress Street" and whose "house" was on "Peck lane"
Sample 2: "Michael Williams" was a "hairdresser" who worked at "27 Elm Street" and whose "house" was on "George Street"
- Model how to read a more complicated entry including "do". Explain that "do" means
ditto. In other words, whatever is in the same column above the "do" is what the
"do" stands for. This can become confusing to follow. For this exercise, keep in mind that the sequential categories for the four columns are of name, job,
where one works, and where one lives.
- Try reading the following entries orally as a group:<
- Sample - "John Derry do. Franklin Street"
The person above John's name, Henry Tyler is a boot black. As the "do" is in the column under the person's job, this means that John Derry does the same job as Henry
Tyler. Therefore, John Derry is a boot black on Franklin Street.
- Sample - "Ludwell Parker is a hairdresser at 14 Fish Street."
- Sample - "Maria Taylor has a boarding house on W. Centre Street."
- Explain that our class groups will tally the "Data Sheet - STREETS" filling in the tally marks on their blank "Data Sheet - STREETS" sheets.
- Distribute the blank "Data sheet - STREETS". Each collaborating pair should receive one sheet.
- Demonstrate how to tally this information using the transparency of the blank
"Data Sheet -STREETS" sheet on the overhead projector. Place a vertical tally mark in front of "Congress Street" for where John Lewis worked. Place another vertical tally mark in front of "Peck lane" for where John Lewis lived. Place a vertical tally mark in front of "Peck lane" for Joseph Peters.Place a vertical tally mark in front of "Warren Street" for Rose Lyons. Place a vertical tally mark in front of "Garden court" for Louis Alexis.
- Demonstrate that after four tally marks in a row, the fifth mark should be a horizontal line through the previous four marks.This will count as "5" and will provide ease in reading groups of tally marks.
- Circulate while the class works.
- When sufficient time has elapsed and the pairs seem to have tallied the information, ask them to total the tally marks for each entry, placing that number on the data sheet near the street name.
- Using the "Data Sheet - STREETS" ask the class members to orally give you the numerical information for each street. Record that information on the transparency projected by the overhead projector as it is given to you. (For your convenience, there
is a completed "ANSWERS - Data Sheet - STREETS" in this packet. Other than how to accurately interpret the amount of "dos"in each category, student results should agree with the completed sheets.)
- After the information for the "Data Sheet - STREETS" is recorded, conduct an oral interpretation of the results. "What do we know about the data we have collected?" "On which streets did most people live?" "Which streets had the least people living there?" "Do any of these street names sound familiar to you as a Bostonian living in the 21st century?" (Many of the street names have since been renamed."
- Create a three-column list of "things you know", "things you think you know" from this data, and "things you would like to know more about" from this data that you might want to further explore.
Putting things in perspective for Session 1: Answers to questions about Session 1 that we don't know and might like to know
- How was the data for this Boston Directory collected?
From what I can determine, there was no organized way to collect the information for these city directories. Observing the "Contents" page of the 1818 directory, one can see that people apparently were requested by advertisements to give notice of their
businesses. This would lead to inaccuracies and incomplete listings.
- Were those people listed on pages 250 - 254 the only coloured
persons living in Boston in 1818?
According to Oscar Handlin's Boston Immigrants, there were 1,690 negroes living in
Boston in 1820. The data we totalled from the 1818 directory was nowhere near this amount.This leads us to conclude that what was included in the 1818 Boston Directory was not complete.
- Were there many white people listed in the Boston Directory of 1818?
Since I have provided only the pages of "coloured persons" for our interpretation, it is important to have a sense of the whole document from which these pages are a part. For that reason I included the "Contents" page. As you can see, the "Directory" begins on page 25 and continues to page 233. There are 208 pages of people listed in Boston. I have read
through the actual directory and counted approximately 40 names per page.The "Directory" section is in alphabetical order. There are no "dos" in that section.
Last modified: February 22, 2017 - Copyright © 2008 Marjorie Duby. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, this website and its contents are the property of Inquiry Unlimited and are protected, without limitation pursuant to United States and foreign copyright laws.