Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Rooming House

Our country's constitution, ratified in 1789, requires that an "actual enumeration" of our population be made every ten years. This is vital to our democracy--the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives varies by population.

The first census was in 1790. There has been one every ten years since then. The Fourteenth Census took place in 1920.

The records of course were kept by hand. Census-takers went door to door and wrote down the information required by their forms: name, age, relationship to household, national origin, occupation. Quite remarkably, the records still exist.

Posted above is the section of the 1920 census form showing those persons living at 1012 N. Dearborn the year before the club bought it in 1921: the place was a rooming house--sixteen people lived there.

Hannah Maloney, age 58, was the head of the household; she owned the building, having purchased it in 1918. (The title records prove that, but the house was built well before her.) Her occupation is listed as "Rooming House." Her son, Joseph, 25, "clerk, cigar store," lived here, as did another fourteen people. Their occupations are given as:

waiter, soda fountain;
draftsman, architecture;
musician, picture show;
ticket agent;
house wife;
clerk, grocery;
stenographer, railroad;
clerk, stock co.;
nurse, private.

What a decline in fortune! From elegant mansion of the 1880's to common boarding house . . . Nothing lasts, does it?

Except maybe art. We hope.


Anonymous L said...

This might be due to the huge influx of immigration into the country in those years. I think you will find that many well to do moved further out, and some residences turned into flophouses or boarding houses.

Nice parallel to today's situation, eh?

March 01, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

So all these people got evicted just so we could have a gallery/studio ?

It just doesn't seem fair.

March 01, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

BTW -- could you give us a larger jpg of the census page ? Irrelevant as it is -- I'd like to read the names of the people who lived here.

March 01, 2007  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

I will try to put up a larger image--don't know if the resolution will come out right.

The names, as far as I can make them out, are:

Frist, Ethel
Erhart, Elizabeth
Artemis, George
Mohr, Fred
Angelo, Peter
Sullivan, Catherine
Delaney, Sarah
Delaney, Agnes
----, Anna
O'Malley, Peter
McElroney, Esther
----, ----
Wackenbooth, Carl
Cooper, Margret

I can't read the ones with the blanks.

March 01, 2007  

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