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

markets  measured*

edge operations






Collected between April of 1845 and 1846, the Statistics of the Condition and Products of Certain Branches of Industry in Massachusetts of 1845 (hereforth 1845 Statistics) are an excerpt from the nation’s earliest, consistent, industrial state statistics. In Massachusetts, town-by-town product lists were recorded in 1837, 1845, and then every decade up to 1895. From 1865 on, Massachusetts published three volumes, collating industrial statistics, population counts, and agricultural tables.


Set adjacent to Thoreau’s emblematic descriptions of overlooked labor and resource remainders, the 1845 Statistics offers a broader view of the integration and formalization of agricultural markets, exposing common urban-rural relays. For instance, seemingly rural industries, like dairy, show a finer geography of connection, as articulated in the immediate demand of urban markets (milk sales) and the less profit-driven consumption of aged goods (cheese, butter) in more distant areas.  Firewood sales, likewise, spike along rail-lines and early industrial towns, offering the fuller footprint of urban impacts. While those market examples expand what we think of as city systems, other familiar foods, like eggs and poultry, are almost entirely absent. These market voids mark our historical distance from antebellum urban consumption. The lacking poultry 'footprints' draw attention to the ubiquity of chickens across space as well as the common use of eggs as currency in a still largely cash-less economy.


Beyond simply charting local markets, these maps also hint at the global supply chains manifest in raw resources. For instance, the production of palm-leaf hats in rural areas testifies to older, active networks - like jobbers or traveling salesmen - connecting country, city, and colonial/southern sites. As supplemental income, farm wives would purchase leaves from such salesmen. After twisting the left-over 'packaging' of international imports (from the Indies) into braid, women and children would sew these strands into cheap, farmer's hats. Sold to the same jobbers, palm hats were then largely shipped to the plantation South (for enslaved plantation labor), a meager export designed (in part) to offset the imports of cotton. When compared with the geography of straw bonnets - which were sourced from local agricultural areas and sold in the markets of Boston, New York, Baltimore, and so on - the footprints of palm-leaf production index overlapping forms of metropolitan commerce and connection. Neither are isolated; both are nested in global relays; but rough and refined specimens testify to older and newer forms of production, market-infrastructure, as well as more and less conspicuous consumption. Similar stories abound, from the imports and alliances of motive power to the elaborate chemical resources and pastoral reach implied by tallow soap production.




Current Interactions/inquiries


You are invited to explore this initial dataset in three ways:

  • First, you can select a good listed in the 1845 Statistics. This will pull up the footprints of that specific good and products considered part of the same general industry. You can then compare that initial good with other goods by clicking in the left-hand column. Bars at the bottom of the map will show what percentage of the Massachusetts' GDP and local GDP that good/industry represents.
  • Second, you can compare 4 specific goods, between industries of your own choosing.
  • Third, you can compare 4 general industries. The bottom bars show similar percentage tallies in all cases. Clicking these stacked bar graphs will give you the option to view the original raster pages of the 1845 Statistics hosted at Hathi Trust.


Additional interactions will be based on tracing industry alliances at a chosen location (for instance, showing the likely slaughter-house/cow, whale-tallow, lye, and other sources linked to soap production in Cambridge). A related search will display the contrast between industries along canal/rail routes and more isolated in-land towns. Ultimately, this series will be combined with both earlier and later census records (1832, 1837, etc.) to enable temporal contrasts. A more formal description of the historical context of collection - in terms of tariffs, taxes, excise, state management, and historical accounting concepts - is forthcoming.


notes on data structure


The 1845 Statistics are mixed in terms of accounting for the number of goods produced (roughly half the time) and the total value of goods sold (most of the time). Due to this discrepancy, the visualization has been constructed to work predominantly with the value of goods sold. The unit costs shown, when hovering over a town, are inconsistent, with reliability shifting according to the conventions used by individual industries. Also, there has been no conversion of costs; all numbers are in 1845 dollar amounts and not contemporary equivalents. If you are interested in manipulating or working with the data, I suggest you download the draft tables (posted  HERE). These tables are still being refined (recombining goods and labor, spot checking data). Finals will be posted on the Database Downloads page.






After loading data Right-Click and inspect element, right-click again to copy outer html of 'svg', paste in text editor and save as svg (for illustrator editing)

Normalize data by:

population , or by: total value

display data by:

choose an individual good (within general category)

choose four (4) goods for custom comparison

Select 'none' to compare fewer. Will not visualize until four have been selected.

Choices will be visible on map as you selected them.

Or four (4) general categories

coming soon: resource streams (town + good + closest input resources)

coming soon: rail/canal comparison (markets along infrastructure)


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



Series includes:

* FULL series,  forthcoming IN 2016

launch schedule

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


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