Doc Chat Episode Fifty-Five: Stories Behind the Census

By Julie Golia, Associate Director, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books and Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscri
November 4, 2022
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

On September 29 2022, Doc Chat launched its fall season by probing the data of the U.S. Census.

1940 census

weekly series from NYPL's Center for Research in the Humanities, Doc Chat pairs an NYPL curator or specialist and a scholar to discuss evocative digitized items from the Library's collections and brainstorm innovative ways of teaching with them. In Episode Fifty-Five, NYPL's Julie Golia and historian and author Dan Bouk explored the human stories hidden within the data of the U.S. Census.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

Below are some handy links to materials and sources suggested in the episode.

Episode Fifty-Five: Primary Sources

NYPL is a depository library in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and provides access and reference support for many rich census resources. Explore Census resources via the Library's Articles and Databases page, as well as its research guides related to the Census. 

Episode Fifty-Five: Readings and Resources

Margo J. Anderson, The American Census: A Social History (Yale University Press, 1988). 

Dan Bouk, Democracy's Data: The Hidden Stories in the U.S. Census and How to Read Them (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2022). 

Tammy Hepps, "When Henry Silverstein Got Cold: Fraud in the 1920 Census," Homestead Hebrews, March 20, 2022.

Procedural History of the 1940 Census (see also this one for 1950).

Debra Thompson, The Schematic State: Race, Transnationalism, and the Politics of the Census (Cambridge University Press, 2016). 

Dan also created this excellent and adaptable Census story assignment

Join the Doc Chat Conversation

Doc Chat episodes take place on Zoom every other Thursday at 3:30 PM. Check out upcoming episodes on NYPL's calendar,  and make sure you don't miss an episode by signing up for NYPL's Research newsletter, which will include links to register. A video of each episode will be posted on the Doc Chat Channel of NYPL's blog shortly after the program. There you can also explore videos and resources for past episodes. See you at the next Doc Chat!