Sampling and Researching Ybor City Blocks

During the past month, I have spent a lot of my time performing research in Special Collections in the USF library. Tom and I chose several blocks for me to sample and research over a prolonged period of time. We chose the block where Ybor’s factory sat along with the eight surrounding blocks on the grid, the block where the current Ybor Museum Park sits and the eight surrounding blocks, the block where Ybor’s house once sat, and several other blocks that I decided to sample on my own.

The research requires me to correlate information between the Sanborn fire maps and city directories that we have available for corresponding years. For example, we have a single directory for the year 1899, and we also happen to have access to a Sanborn map of the same year. After 1899, we only have directories beginning in 1907, but the next available Sanborn map represents information for 1915. I also found a physical Sanborn map in the Special Collections which was updated until 1929. Until I track down more maps or more directories, this means I can at least record information on these sample blocks for 1899, 1915, and 1929.

Beginning with 1899, I recorded in an Excel spreadsheet information provided on the Sanborn map for that year, including the street addresses, building types, number of stories in each building, number of rooms in each building, and the building material used in construction.

With all of the map information recorded, I next went through a section of the 1899 directory which lists all of the streets with addresses in order along with the resident’s name. Usually, only the surname and first initial was recorded. Now for the tedious part: I thumbed through the directory to find each person’s name in the alphabetical listening so that I could record their first name, their wife’s name (if married), and their occupation. Often, there were several people with the same initial and last name (eg. A. Valdez), so this part of the research is undoubtedly the longest.

So far, I have finished all of 1899 and half of 1915. Here is a sample of a block from 1899:

Recorded information for a single block in 1899

Recorded information for a single block in 1899

With this information, we can now start to see what types of dwellings people of a certain occupation were able to afford. We can also begin to see whether people of a certain ethnicity were more likely to live in a certain neighborhood.

Much more to come!

Acquainting myself with city directories in the special collection

Today I met with Tom to discuss more particular information about my research this summer. We talked about social stratification in Ybor City during the Cigar Era, and discussed the fact that some seek to apply the notion of the “melting pot” to the workers of different ethnic groups and occupations. However, that idea is questionable, especially in light of the fact that the historiography shows that different ethnic groups had access to different jobs and, thus, different levels of wealth and prestige.

To better understand such stratification, I will begin performing research this summer that will not only help to shed light on such questions, but also to contribute information toward future archaeological projects in Ybor City.

I will take samples of different neighborhoods at different times in Ybor City’s past and go through old fire insurance maps to record the nature of homes: their size and the materials used to build them. I will then use old city directories which give the names of occupants by address as well as their occupations, to better understand the types of dwellings commonly available to workers based on their occupational status.

I went to the special collections section of the university library and set up an account to access the materials. I was able to look at the directories for 1893, 1912, and 1921, just to get an idea of the information available. While the directories do not provide ethnic information (and surnames are a little too diffuse to make any accurate determination), they do indicate whether the person in question was “colored (African).” This should allow us to at least get a glimpse at the differences between such residents as opposed others.

Tom and I will be meeting next week to talk more about the nature of this research and to put together some kind of system for me to record this information in a practical way. I should begin performing this research soon!

Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn and I at the end of the Crystal River field school last June (2012)

Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn and I at the end of the Crystal River field school last June (2012)

Honors Program Application

Today I submitted my application for the Anthropology department’s Honors program in the fall! Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn is writing the required recommendation letter from a faculty member that is willing to work with me, and I spoke to Dr. Silverman at the Honors College several days ago about writing my thesis for both programs. He said that I could replace the three credits I take with him in the fall with the anthropology department’s credits, but that if I felt I could perform enough work to justify all of the credits, I could do both. This means that with all of the credits I am taking, including the directed reading this summer, my thesis will be the result of 12 credits worth of work.

I talked to Tom in the hallway a couple of weeks ago about the project a little more. He had forwarded to me a draft copy of a proposal for a project in Ybor City to take place over a three year period, so that I could get a better feeling of the scope of the work to be done there. The proposal suggests that archaeological work is lacking in Ybor, and even the historical work needs to be more encompassing–most of the work concerns males of Cuban or Italian descent. The plight of women, children, and other ethnic groups, especially Afro-Cubans, is completely lacking.

Concerning my project, Tom feels that what is lacking the most is historical research, and he asked if I minded working on something that was more historical rather than anthropological. Of course, I said yes. I am both an anthropology and a history major, and I have always had difficulty deciding which one I’d prefer. With historical archaeology, I don’t have to choose really!

Application

From cleaning to sorting

Today we move from washing all of the artifacts from the dig, to sorting them out, a very lengthy and time consuming process. Today I sorted everything from unit 3/4, level 1, into individual bags.

Artifacts from Unit 3/4, Level 1

Artifacts from Unit 3/4, Level 1

Artifacts from Unit 3/4, Level 1

Artifacts from Unit 3/4, Level 1