Poor Farm Project

Butler County Poor Farm Census ProjectScreen Shot 2019-09-26 at 2.13.01 PM


The Butler County Poor House, also known as the County Home or Poor Farm, was opened on 25 Oct 1900 to accept the homeless and infirm who were unable to provide for themselves. It was reorganized in 1963 as Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The Stewards (superintendents) maintained various records, which were aptly called “Steward’s Register of the Names of Paupers Admitted to the Butler County Poor House.”

The admission records commenced in 1900, with the opening of the Poor House, and end in 1963. Additionally, every three months a Census of residents was entered into the Register. Consequently, residents were recorded at the time of admission and in each quarterly Census during their stay. While most people were from Butler County, neighboring counties also placed residents at the Poor House. (description from the Genealogy page of Butler Area Public Library website)


To digitize select historical census records of the Butler County Poor Farm, make them available to researchers, and interpret the history of the farm and the people who lived there for a public audience.


Students will work in four teams – Digitization, Transcription, Data Analysis and Narrative – to accomplish separate but interrelated aspects of the project.

Each team will be responsible for drafting a team contract that assigns tasks and responsibilities. Each will also receive specific training and consulation sessions with Dr. Cowan. Teams have varying due dates based on necessary scaffolding of the project.

Students are expected to engage in this effort with professionalism and dedication to producing work at the highest standard possible.

Due date(s)
Desired skills/interests
  1. Photograph pages of census records
  2. Post-capture processing (editing, organization)
  3. Create Omeka collection with metadata
October 15
  • photography
  • archival management
  • familiarity with Photoshop or other photo editing software
  1. Clean and prep existing birth/death data
  2. Transcribe selected pages of census records completely and accurately
  3. Proofread and clean transcriptions
Task 1: October 15

Task 2 & 3: October 29

  • attention to detail
  • ability to read cursive!


Data Analysis and Visualization
  1. Analyze data from transcribed records, drawing on similar studies as potential models
  2. Draft historical questions relevant to the data
  3. Create at least 3 data visualizations (may include charts, graphs, maps, etc.) illustrating historically meaningful patterns, trends, etc.
November 12
  • experience with statistics, data visualization, Excel or other data software
  • creativity


Narrative and Interpretive
  1. Research history of Butler County Poor Farm, drawing on secondary and primary sources
  2. Write an overview historical narrative of the Farm until approximately 1950
  3. Create at least 2 interpretive digital exhibits on a specific subtopic, using Omeka Exhibit Builder plugin.
Task 1 & 2: November 5

Task 3: November 26

strong writing


experience with original research