Mapping Then and Now:
Philadelphia, Race, Public Health
If computers are available, students will use The Ward’s GIS mapping program to learn about both the spatial patterns of the historical Seventh Ward and about specific individuals who once lived there. Additional maps will then guide students in exploring changes in public health and racial demographics between 1900 and today. Overall, students will use and understand maps as tools for telling stories.
- GIS mapping program; Online mapping activities; Worksheets
The first activity, “Mapping Du Bois,” uses The Ward website’s GIS portal, a digital re-creation of the Seventh Ward. This site includes information on each street block and resident, taken from Du Bois’ original survey. Students use the site to navigate the neighborhood, learning about the lives of its residents and where different ethnic and migrant groups lived. Students also learn about significant buildings and institutions and then use Google Maps to investigate these sites’ current uses. Using the second worksheet, “Mapping Race Today,” students investigate changes in Philadelphia’s racial and ethnic demographics during recent years. They will also explore the distribution of crime and poverty rates in the city by area. With the third worksheet, “Public Health,” students will investigate common public health issues in the early 1900’s, such as consumption, and the comparative death rates among black and white citizens. Then, they will investigate current public health issues, such as the distribution of diabetes and heart disease across the country. They will also work with a map showing the distribution of lead poisoning in Philadelphia and will use what they learned in the previous activity to understand how this relates to racial distribution among the city’s neighborhoods.