Census Troubles

The past few days have mostly been spent finishing up another of my comprehensive reading lists and working on the census project as my breaks. Yesterday, I digitally transcribed the 1870 Agricultural Census for the Three Village area, and then went back to the microfilm area of the library to get some more high-res scans of the 1860 Agricultural Census. Since the 1850 Census broke down locations by regions of Brookhaven (ex: The North Part of the Town of Brookhaven), there were a lot more entrants accounted for.

1850 Brookhaven Capture

Here, in the 1850 Census, the region surveyed is described as “The North Part of Brookhaven.”

Subsequent censuses, however, identify the area surveyed both by Township (Brookhaven) and Post Office.

1860 Brookhaven Capture

Here, in the (blurry) 1860 Census, the area surveyed is identified specifically as the villages that use the “Setauket and Port Jefferson” post office(s) within the town of Brookhaven.

This is slightly problematic, because it’s unclear what the 1850 census taker considered to be part of “The North Part of Brookhaven.” Is it just the villages farthest north? The ones adjacent to the Long Island Sound? Can it include Coram and Middle Island?

The issue becomes more complicated when the 1860 census taker grouped together on the same page, without distinguishing between them, two different villages that are on opposite shores of Long Island.

Here, in the 1860 Census, the two villages listed on this page are Miller Place and Bellport, the former of which is on the North Shore and the latter of which is on the south shore, separated by

Here, in the 1860 Census, the two villages listed on this page are Miller Place and Bellport, the former of which is on the North Shore and the latter of which is on the South Shore, about 15 miles apart from one another.

Google Earth Miller Place-Bellport

Here you can see the distance between Miller Place and Bellport, both of which are listed on the same page of the 1860 Agricultural Census without any mark or note to tell where on the page the data should divide.

So, for now I’m entering what data is safe to enter, and if I don’t hear back from my supervisor by the time I’m through with that, I’ll move on to the pages that mix geographically disparate towns. When it comes time for that, I recognize a number of the names on the first half of the page as ones that show up in the 1850 Census for “The North Part of Brookhaven,” so maybe I’ll start with recording up to a point where there is a major divergence in the names (especially since the major goal of this project is to be able to compare the changing agricultural production of individual farms over the decades, not so much to be able to identify every agricultural good produced by every farmer in Suffolk County. In other words, the most important people here are the ones who reappear throughout the censuses).

 

 

 

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