Friday, September 6, 2013

40th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies

Here's the schedule for the upcoming 40th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies. It is going to be great. I highly recommend Professor Masur's lecture on Thursday night and, of course, the reception, but all the sessions are fabulous. The conference space is beautiful too. Drop by even for one or two sessions. All the newest research on DC topics!

Thursday, November 14, 2013 – Location: George Washington University
6:00-7:00  All-Conference Reception
7:00-9:00 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture
Featuring Kate Masur, Professor of History at Northwestern University,author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2010). 
Friday, November 15, 2013 – Location: Carnegie Library/Historical Society of Washington DC
9:00-9:30 Opening
9:30-11:00 Session 1: Alley Life in Washington DC, 1865-1935
11:00-11:15 break
11:00-12:30 Concurrent Sessions
• 2:  Freedom-seeking During the Civil War: United States Colored Troops,Contrabands, and Fugitive Slaves in the District of Columbia,
• 3:  Memorials
• 4:  The Transition to Home Rule in Washington, D.C.
12:15-2:00 History Network
2:15-3:30 Concurrent Sessions
• 5: Marching on Washington: African American Architects in Washington
• 6: Civil War Washington
• 7: African American Women and Washington
3:30-3:45 break
3:45-5:30 Concurrent Sessions
•  8: Gentrification and its Discontents: Displacement and policy efforts to mitigate its effects, 1970- 2013
•  9: 1814 and 1864
• 10: Collections in DC repositories
5:30-6:30: Chinatown – a new film looking at today’s Chinatown and its future in the context of historical studies 
Saturday, November 16, 2013 – Location: Carnegie Library/Historical
Society of Washington DC
9:00-9:30 Opening
• 11:  A Century of Federal Workers in Washington DC
• 12: Campus and Complex in the Nation’s Capital
• 13: Public Facilities and Racial Equity in Washington
10:45-11:00 break
11:15-12:30 Concurrent Sessions
• 14: Prince Hall Freemasonry in the District of Columbia
• 15: Washington's Culinary History
• 16: The District of Columbia in the Antebellum Years
12:30-2:00 Concurrent Sessions / Lunch
• 17: HGIS: Digitally Mapping History in DC and Beyond
• 18: Public Service Commission at 100
2:15-3:30 Concurrent Sessions
• 19: African American Washington
• 20:  Protests
• 21: DC Community History Project: Discovering Hidden Communities
3:30-3:45 break
3:45-5:30 Concurrent Sessions
• 22: The Archaeology of DC Parks and the Play DC Playground Initiative
• 23: Neighborhood Change and Placemaking
• 24: War of 1812 
Sunday, November 17, 2013 –Locations – various tours
• Bladensburg bus tour
• Downtown/Lafayette Square/Mall tours 
Films will also run on a loop in one of the rooms throughout the conference Friday and Saturday.
The conference is co-sponsored by Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of D.C., Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives, Cultural Tourism DC, GeorgeWashington University, H-DC, Washington, D.C. History (, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities Council of Washington, DC, Rainbow History Project, Special Collections/DC Public Library (Washingtoniana Division).For most up-to-date information visit:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Deconcentrating poverty or deconcentrating affluence?

Many people do not realize how wealthy they are relative to the rest of the District, the country, or worldwide. DC, in fact, has the most households in the nation making over $200,000 (8.4% of households or 21,194 households) and has the highest Gini coefficient (.534) in the US, that is, the highest level of inequality nationwide, according to the Census. To make it into the top 5% of American household incomes, your household has to make at least $188,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in DC, those in the following jobs would quite easily make it into the top 5%:
  • Surgeon, $241,330
  • General internist, $217,330
  • Chief Executive, $198,120
 or as a two-earner household:
  • Family and general practitioner, $173,050
  • Lawyer, $159,790
  • Sales manager, $136,920
  • PR and fundraising managers $129,940
  • Database administrator, $95,690
Where is your household in the income hierarchy? (See here). Where does Ward 6 fit into the income hierarchy? 

Using the Census' American Community Survey, I looked at census tracts 71 (the long-standing lowest-income census tract in Ward 6) and 67 (the long-standing wealthiest census tract in Ward 6)(1).

You can see that these two census tracts are very close to each other. From the data, I found that census tract 67 has a very large percentage of households making over $200,000: about 30% of census tract 67 makes $200,000 or more, while only 5% do in census tract 71. In addition, no families live in poverty in census tract 67, while it is estimated that 47% of those in census tract 71 do. It is further estimated that about 70% of those living in poverty in census tract 71 are under 18 years of age; they are children. Interestingly, census tract 71 looks much more like the rest of the country than census tract 67. The wealth of census tract 67 and the poverty of census tract 71 are, in fact, related.

Many people think that poverty can be reduced by "deconcentrating" poverty, by moving the poor away from areas with concentrated poverty. At the American Sociological Association annual conference this August, sociologists working on poverty and race -- such as Professors William Julius Wilson, Mary Patillo, and Douglas Massey, whom I heard speak -- demonstrated that displacing the poor in almost all cases will not help them because they are usually displaced to areas with even more concentrated poverty. Rather, poverty and inequality have to be dealt with where the poor live, recognizing that areas of poverty and areas of wealth are interrelated.

Alternatively, given the lack of households living in poverty in census tract 67, it might make sense if several of the families living in poverty in census tract 71 moved to census tract 67. In his article about public housing, British geography professor Tom Slater has argued that the problem is not the concentration of poverty but rather the "concentration of affluence" in which people are "utterly insulated from the dignified daily struggles endured" by their neighbors and do not realize that their own actions and decisions impact the lives of those living in poverty. How might Ward 6 deconcentrate affluence?

(1) In this case, the American Community Survey surveyed large samples of households over 2007-2011. Since the survey does not include everyone in the country, it produces only estimates.