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:
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!