I have thought that Walden Pond would be a good place for business... it is a good port and a good foundation.

media means metrics




mixed mensurations

tracing the statistical forms, empirical aspirations, & projected geographies embedded in antebellum, administrative documents

These ‘administrative instruments’ explorations bring together the tabular accounts of Thoreau’s era in query-based interactions and analytic dash-boards, offering a wider view than is found in the ‘material metabolism’ narratives. Instead of simply following Walden, visitors are encouraged to wander according to their own curiosity. For instance, what does the palm-leaf hat industry (its mercantile roots, shifting concentrations and costs, jobbers and consumers) let us understand about agrarian-urban connections? How does the ‘pastoral’ consolidation of beef slaughter and tanning impact Massachusetts’s shoe industry and the structure of garment sales across the industrial North East? Meander amidst your own metabolic and spatial inquiries…


This section will be developed in stages, as it involves cleaning or digitizing original data, developing back-end structures and annotative tables to enable relational analysis of material streams. Additional effort will be made to provide summary, historical introductions to the development of the different data types (i.e. American manufacturers censuses) and provide links to digitized sources.


For those looking for the database tables themselves (without interface), should see Database Downloads.



extracting energy

2016 (released in stages)







Geographic Visualizations and Queries: tracing raw resource extraction, market development, and fuel relays from early state & national manufacturer's census returns

markets measured

  • McLane Report (Ma.)
  • 1832 U.S. census of manufactures


  • Ma. census of manufactures
  • 1837, 1845, 1855, (1865, 1875) industrial census returns


  • census of manufactures (MA.)
  • 1850, 1860, 1870, U.S. census (urban/county level)


Series includes:

forthcoming 2016


resurveying walden

2016 (released in stages)







Geographic Visualizations and Queries: tracing the back-haul materials underpinning Boston's industrial development

coldscape conduits

  • boston board of trade
  • 1855+ Frozen-Water Exports


  • physical geography of the sea
  • 1850s Maury/Navy Logs (NOAA digitized)


  • tudor ice co. trade tonnages
  • 1845-1875, Account book transcriptions (future additions)


Series includes:

incorporation date t.b.d.







Geographic Visualizations and Queries: additions topic-driven interactions will be developed in tandem with narrative chapters

other collations

  • MA. railroad commission records
  • 1846+ Annual Reports on trips, wages, infrastructure


  • boston sanitary/Mortality surveys
  • 1842/50 Shattuck's Public Health reports


  • additional archival sources to come



  • boston shipping lists (newspaper)
  • 1845-75 (5yr int.), transcriptions (future additions)


  • grocery accounts (concord, charlestown)
  • 1840s, transcriptions (future additions)


  • boston wharfage & port surveyor records
  • misc. years & materials, transcriptions (future additions)



Series included:

future, digital datasets

launch schedule

Chapter by chapter explorations - print and interactive - will be posted as completed. Background databases and query-base mappings will evolve on a similar schedule.


Beyond the initial series, "Re-Surveying Walden," under Material Metabolisms, new data, interactions, and infographics will be posted in May 2016.