Among us we had a rudimentary concept of the capabilities of Geographic Information System (GIS) software, but it wasn’t until we enlisted the help of Roland Adams, GIS Manager for the City of Beverly, that the possibilities that this technology offered to our project became clear.
Under Roland’s direction and expertise we were able to represent our demographic data on a map of Beacon Hill. BHS class of ’04 senior Nicholas Spellman, with the help of classmates Ryan Morse and Jessica Moody, carefully compiled the data from the sources we had available. They accomplished this by matching addresses from 1850 with a current-day map. This was not a simple task, as many of the street names have changed. However, due to the density of buildings at both points in time, there is relatively little change in the topography of the built environment on Beacon Hill (compared to say, agrarian or suburban areas). To a table of names and addresses we added parcel identification numbers from the Boston Tax Assessors Office. These unique ID numbers served to help us highlight existing buildings that are the locations where we may guess with a certain degree of accuracy that certain African-Americans in our database lived in antebellum Boston.