Economics 449: American Economic Mobility Over Two Centuries

This site displays the original work of Econ 449 students exploring the history of mobility and inequality in the Williamsburg through a variety of sources and techniques. Each semester, students build of the work of previous cohorts, expanding the datasets and building a fuller picture of Williamsburg's economic history. Click on the images below to explore the datasets generated by the class. For the syllabus, reading list and assignment instructions, click here for the course materials page on my main website.

The Paris Exhibition

The Du Bois Project

Students recreated figures from the 1900 Paris Exhibition works of W. E. B. Du Bois using historical data from Virginia and modern data from the United States. The resulting figures provide insights into the ways racial inequalities varied across the South and evolved over the twentieth century.

Williamsburg, 1901

Neighborhood Histories

Students traced the histories of Williamsburg houses. Manuscript pages from the 1940 Federal Census reveal the neighborhood demographics from over half a century ago. Deed histories uncover the restrictive covenants that shaped the evolution of those neighborhoods.

The 1940 Federal Census

Family Histories

By linking Williamsburg residents across several federal censuses, students created an intergenerational dataset capturing occupational and geographical mobility over a time period that witnessed tremendous shocks to the national economy as well as major changes specific to the Williamsburg community.