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Category Archives: Government Information

Local and Family History Lecture Series, Spring 2014

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information, Programs
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A Recipe for Wellbeing: Health and Illness in Colonial New EnglandBoston’s ethnic neighborhoods are famous, but what do they look like today? Old enclaves and predictable patterns are changing as Boston becomes a more global city. The spring series looks at Boston’s three most diverse neighborhoods: East Boston, Mattapan, and Allston Brighton.

This series will complement the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s exhibit, A City of Neighborhoods: The Changing Face of Boston (running from March 14  to July 12 at the Central Library in Copley Square). The exhibit will feature maps of Boston’s immigrant population based on the 2010 federal census as well as historic, modern, and digitized maps.

Talks are on Wednesdays at 6pm in the Commonwealth Salon, unless otherwise noted. For full descriptions of the talks, click here.

January 15  Ethnic Enclaves, Edge Gateways, and the Global Boston / James Madden

Tuesday January 28 in Rabb Lecture Hall Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era / Larry DiCara

 January 29  Researching Your Ancestral Homes — Adding Stories to Your Family Tree / BPL Staff

Tuesday, February 4 in the Commonwealth Salon  The Race Underground: Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry that Built American’s First Subway / Doug Most

February 12  History of People, Places and Plans that Shaped East Boston / Antonio  Di Mambro

February 26  Boston’s Changing Neighborhoods with the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and  Tools for Mapping Neighborhoods and Stories in the Digital Age / Evan Thornberry and Jonathan Wyss

 March 12  Jewish Settlement in and out of Mattapan  and The Roots of New Boston: Race and Ethnicity in Mattapan, 1860 – 2010 / Amy Schechtman and Dr. Kerri Greenidge

March 26  Family Research Through Oral History for Less Documented Groups /  Marian Pierre-Louis

April 9  Brighton:  the Historic Neighborhood / Anthony Mitchell Sammarco

April 23 Researching Your Jewish Ancestors in Old Boston Neighborhoods / Meredith Hoffman

May 7 Diaspora to the Boston Neighborhoods and Suburbs  / James O’Connell .

May 21 – Mining Family History – Gold in Local Archives and Speakers’ Round Table, with James Madden, Tunney Lee, Joanne Riley, Antonio Di Mambro, Kerri Greenidge, James O’Connell, Anthony Sammarco and Amy Schectman

The Science of Innovation

Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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Check out a video series called The Science of Innovation, created by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the National Science Foundation, and NBC Learn.

The site currently has eleven videos exploring various processes of innovation in these areas:


  • Smart Concrete
  • Self-driving Cars
  • Electronic Tattoos
  • Fuel Cell Efficiency
  • Biometrics
  • Biofuels
  • Anti-Counterfeiting Devices
  • Synthetic Diamonds
  • Bionic Limbs
  • Innovation
  • 3D Printing


Four Interesting Data Visualization Sites

Posted on August 18th, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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Cool data visualization pages proliferate.

Probably the most graphically stunning is A Handsome Atlas  from Brooklyn Brainery, with its colorful and imaginative visualizations of nineteenth century census data.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks  takes data from the US Census Bureau’s 2007 through 2011 American Community Survey to map  income data on income and rent. Data can be displayed by street address, zip code, census tract number, or city, and comparisons to state medians are also shown.

Bostonography was developed by two “cartography geeks”. It  includes maps on themes such as distances to liquor stores and Dunkin’ Donuts locations.  The site is also attempting to define some of Boston’s disputed neighborhood boundaries by crowdsourcing  “collective definitions of Boston’s neighborhoods by its residents and those who know the city well.”

Gapminder bills itself as  “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”  Its data page contains visualizations on 513 socioeconomic indicators by country. The same data is also available to download to spreadsheets. The rest of the site is also worth checking out, particularly the Joy of Stats documentary.

Boston Puts Its Data Online

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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 2010 Census data is now available by neighborhood from the Boston Redevelopment Authority

For the first time, the public may access the data that made up 134 reports on Boston’s neighborhoods, planning districts, the 2010 Census, and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey.  

The 2010 Census includes information on population, sex, age, race, housing occupancy and household type; the American Community Survey features more detailed characteristics such as place of birth, employment status, and languages spoken at home.  For example, to find Brighton’s median household income, enter “Brighton median household income” into the search bar on the Boston Data Portal, then click “Brighton, neighborhood data: American Community Survey 2005-2009″.  After downloading the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, click the “Economic” tab;  Brighton’s “Median Household Income”  is listed first.

Students, researchers, and others seeking economic, demographic, and housing information about Boston’s neighborhoods now have data at their fingertips.

The release of the data is part of Mayor Menino’s strategy for open government and transparency.  The BRA Research Division will make the data for future reports available via the Boston Data Portal.