The Journey to Work in Greenville
A Detective Hunt with Tools and Examples
The concept of the journey to work is a highly effective
heuristic for understanding
a city's social organization and spatial distributions. Examining
the journey to work of a single individual can help us to identity
the ways in which the city operated at the human level. Comparing
the different journey stories discovered by each participant can give us
an intimate sense of the city's diversity of human conditions,
opportunities, and constraints. The variety of stories also
offers a sense of how this city changed over time while allowing
us to ground-test the validity of the theories and historiographical
interpretations we have seen in the course.
Greenville Library South Carolina and Local History Room
Puzzle Path 1: Via Where:
One of the most simple means of discovering a journey to work is to
start with a known place. This might be a mill, church, or school,
lecture hall, or office
building shown in a postcard, a location from one of our tours that
captured your attention, or a place associated with one of your
interests, hobbies, or passions. Consider, for example, this
postcard of Poe Mill:
(Source: "South Carolina Postcard Collection," Furman University Digital Collections,
using your preferred
see if you can find the
obituary of someone who
worked at that location. Obituaries are an excellent source for finding
names and may contain other important details about the lives of
potential subjects for your journey to work.
Once you have identified
a particular name it can be useful to search for them in the
Ancestry.com databases, for information about where they lived and
other basic information. (Hugh Morgan's 1930 census page
from Ancestry.com and the National Archives is below:)
Because spelling and pronunciation varied
widely, it is often a good idea to try searching just the last name
initially. Be sure to specify Greenville, SC as your location, but it will
work better if you don't enter a birth date.
Using a tool such as
see if you can locate the modern address.
As we have seen with the Viola Street neighborhood, it is possible that the
street name has changed, the houses have been renumbered, or even the
street itself has been shifted from its original path. Some detective work
USC Historic Maps Collection,
Library of Congress Maps Collection
USGS Historic Quad Maps
collections for historic names and locations.
Puzzle Path 2: Via When:
You may be interested in a particular moment in time. If so, one of the
best paths for finding a journey to work is through the digital newspaper
America's Historical Newspapers collection contains hundreds of
Greenville-related articles. Limiting your search to a particular range
(say 1920-1926, for example), should provide useful articles describing
where people worked and lived. The course
contains a wide range of other digital newspapers you can search for
the keyword Greenville within a restricted block of time.
(The article images for Cleveland Allen and Bessie Arnett are below:)
As with a place search, once you have identified a name, a search of
Ancestry.com should identify more complete information about where
your subject lived and what their neighbors did for work.
(Bessie Arnett, 1920 Census, Ancestry.com and National Archives)
Another good resource for historic maps is the
Sanborn Collection at USC, using Greenville as your keyword.
(Snapshots from the 1920 Greenville Sanborn map showing West Washington
Street and from 1923 Greenville Sanborn map showing the Sterling
neighborhood and the Minus / Bessie Arnett home
at 635 Green.)
Puzzle Path 3: Via Who:
- A very interesting way to approach discovering primary materials is by
considering who Greenville's people were, in terms of occupation. A
Web Search by job can help identify the names
of individuals who might be worthy of further study. Here, too, obituaries
can be a valuable resource for discovering the stories of ordinary people.
- Try this with the
newspaper databases, too. Often the society pages, the birth, marriage,
and graduation announcements and related materials can be quite productive
of compelling stories. For example, Greenville, S.C. Social World
(Social World Page from Atlanta Constitution)
- Another possibility is to try searching by a random last name. There are
a number of
lists of most common last names
on the Internet, or you might look for one of the names associated with
Greenville streets, or the name of a relative, or something similar.
Puzzle Path 4: Via What:
Greenville has been the site of some dramatic events, inventions, crises,
and disasters. A search of the
newspaper databases for keywords such as flu, fever,
flood, fire, accident, murder, fight, strike, incident, or riot will generate
all kinds of potential primary materials.