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Primary Sources - Workshop in American History Workshop 6 - The Census: Who We Think We Arehomesitemap
Introduction -Link Before You Watch - link Lectures and Activities Classroom and Applications - Link
 

Workshop 6:  Lectures & Activities


Lecture Transcript Three:
How Were Resources Allocated?

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Continued…


Professor Hammonds: So you agree that in order to really sort of see how race and ethnicity might really factor in, you need to know that for all these different categories as well, right? But then on another level, there's ways in which it's not useful, that a poor child is a poor child.

Well, I hope what you all sort of carried away from this is the way in which race and ethnic issues as reflected in the census can both help us understand some things about the American people, but also hide some of the things we might want to understand about the American people if we focus on them, these categories almost exclusively. And in much of the public debate about the Census 2000—in letters to editors in various newspapers—that was what much of the debate was about: How do I identify myself? And there was much less debate about what exactly are we trying to understand about our community's needs in terms of who lives there, how they live, how they get to work, what they have to do. And I think that debate about identity, at large, obscured some of those things.

So I think—I hope that this exercise helps you to see that. And I think we've—I hope you've covered enough of it to get a sense of how rich a resource looking at the census might be for your teaching. It's certainly an important resource for historians. But I think the final question that we might be left with is, does the census, in fact, ask the right questions? Does it ask the right questions to allow historians or policy makers or any of us to really understand the experience of Americans and their needs at this point in our history? So thank you very much for your attention, and thank you for participating this afternoon.


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