Index for 1818 City Directory Lessons | Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | coloured persons of Boston | Analysis | Inquiry Unlimited

A Demographic Study of Beacon Hill

Mission: Using the 1818 Boston City Directory

Classroom interpretation of the

 "City Directory of 1818" information


The following types of information might be suggested by your class members:



Overall observations:


"What Do You Know?" about this document?"


1.  The format of the document is not in alphabetical order.

2.  The names are listed as first name, last name.

3.  The guide on the top of the page identifies these pages as "Coloured Persons."

4.  The entries seem to have the name of the person, their job, a street name,

      and another street name.

5.  Some of the entries say   "do."

6.  Some of the entries have only the person's name and what he does.

7.  Some of the entries have only the person's name and a "do."

8.  Some of the entries have only the person's name and a "do." and another "do."

9.  The document has 4 pages:

        3 pages are "Coloured Persons" and 1 page is "Books and Stationary."




The following types of information might be suggested by class members:


Specific observations:


"What Do You Know?" about this document?


  1.  There are mostly men on this list.

  2.  There are 6 women on this list.

  3.  One of the women is a doctress.

  4.  Three of the women run or own boarding houses.

  5.  Sarah Flinn is a boot black.

  6.  Their boarding houses are on Southac Street.

  7.  There are more boot blacks than any other job.

  8.  Hairdressers are the second most popular job.

  9.  There are 43 "do."

10.  There were 27 boot blacks.

11.  There were 25 hairdressers.

12.  Except for the 6 boarding houses, and 2 each of the grocers, the musicians, the

       ropemakers, and the 3 waiters, the rest of the people had one type of job.

13.  Types of work included ashes man, boot blacks, carter, chimney sweep, clothes man,

        clothes shop, collector of ashes, cook, doctress, fruiterer, grocer, hairdresser,

        musician, ropemaker, school master, shoe black, shoemaker, shop, soapworks,

        tailor, trader, waiter, and "do."

14.  Belknap Street has the most people living or working there. (13)

15.  Southac Street has the second most people living or working there. (11)

16.  Elm Street has 5 people living or working there.

17.  There is a James Jackson and an Ann Jackson.

18.  There are two different John Browns.





"What Do You Think You Know?" about this document?


From this listed information, ask the class members to begin to interpret what they think they know about the coloured persons of Boston in 1818 based on their "What Do You Know" column.  List on the chalkboard under a "What Do You Think You Know?" column.


1.  We think there must have been a lot of work for boot blacks and hairdressers.

2.  We think that women were not hair dressers in those days.

3.  We think that the system of keeping track of people in those days was not very reliable

      because there had to be more than 84 coloured person in Boston in 1818.

4.  We think that these coloured persons did not do apprenticed jobs.

5.  We think that they are not in the trades.

6.  We think that the custom in those days was to have very shiny, clean shoes.




"What Would You Like To Know More About?"

the information in this document?


  1.  Were John Brown and William Brown related?

  2.  Were James Jackson and Ann Jackson related?

  3.  How did they get the listing of the coloured persons for 1818?

  4.  Are these all the coloured people living in Boston in 1818?

  5.  How many people were living in Boston in 1818?

  6.  Were these all free people?

  7.  What types of hair styles were popular in those days?

  8.  Did the people wear wigs in 1818 or were hairdressers working on real hair?

  9.  Were the hairdressers like our barbers ?

10.  What types of jobs did the white persons of Boston do in 1818?

11.  How many white persons were listed in the City Directory of 1818?

12.  How did a person become a hairdresser then?

13.  Did the hairdressers work on men and women?

14.  Did the hairdressers work on coloured persons or white persons or both?

15.  Did many of these coloured persons work and live in the same building?

16.  Were there many boarding houses in 1818 Boston?

17.  What was the type of work being done in 1818 Boston by the whites in Boston?

       We never got to see the other pages of the City Directory.

18.  Were there white people who were boot blacks and hairdressers in 1818 Boston?



Last modified: February 24, 2017 - Copyright 2008 Marjorie Duby. All rights reserved.