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1940 US Census Poster
March Tuesday

Adventures of a Census-Detective, or Learning to Love Data for the Secret Stories that It Holds


Hear stories of how these deceptively dry records unlock dramatic tales of individuals and communities.

Join Julie Golia, Curator of History, Social Science, and Government Information at the New York Public Library and curator of BHS’s exhibitions Waterfront and Taking Care of Brooklyn, as she moderates a discussion with Kubi Ackerman, curator of Museum of the City of New York’s exhibit Who We Are: Visualizing NYC by the Numbers; Dan Bouk, creator of the website Census Stories, USA and associate professor of history at Colgate University; and Nalleli Guillen, historian and project manager of BHS’s Revealing Long Island History project, for a look at how historians and artists sleuth through census data to paint pictures of the past and present day.

Presented as part of the program series Unpacking the Census about the history, impact, and ramifications of being counted.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

6:30 pm


  • General Admission $10
  • Member Admission $5


  • Kubi Ackerman_headshot

    Kubi Ackerman

    Kubi Ackerman is a consultant and designer who also works as a curator, most recently of the exhibition Who We Are: Visualizing NYC by the Numbers at the Museum of the City of New York, which showcases the work of artists and designers working with census data and other demographic data. With expertise in applying visual narrative techniques to complex urban problems, he is currently collaborating on projects with Thinc Design and the National Building Museum. From 2015 to 2019, he was the Director of the Future City Lab at the Museum of the City of New York, an interactive gallery space dedicated to engaging the public on the big challenges facing the city in the coming generations, including climate change and economic development.

  • bouk_headshot

    Dan Bouk

    Dan Bouk researches the history of bureaucracies, quantification, and other modern things shrouded in cloaks of boringness. He studied computational mathematics as an undergraduate at Michigan State, before earning a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. He teaches history at Colgate University and is a faculty fellow at Data & Society.  His first book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual, explored the spread into ordinary Americans’ lives of the United States life insurance industry’s methods for quantifying people, for discriminating by race, for justifying inequality, and for thinking statistically. He is currently writing a book about learning to read Big Data closely, tentatively titled Democracy’s Data and How to Read It.

  • nalleli_guillen

    Nalleli Guillen

    Nalleli Guillen is Historian and Project Manager of the Revealing Long Island History project at the Brooklyn Historical Society, a collections and research initiative funded by the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation dedicated to making BHS’s collection of Brooklyn and Long Island artifacts digitally available to the public for the first time. Nalleli received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization in May 2018 and holds an M.A. in American Material Culture, both from the University of Delaware. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century America with a particular interest in visual and material culture, race and ethnicity, and the impact of leisure and entertainment culture in shaping American society.

  • Oct 15 Julie Golia

    Julie Golia

    Julie Golia is a historian of media and gender, an acclaimed curator, and an award-winning educator. She is the Curator of History, Social Science, and Government Information at the New York Public Library. She also served as Vice President of Collections and Cura­torial Affairs at Brooklyn Historical Society, where she was the curator of the current BHS exhibitions Waterfront and Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health, and co-host of the BHS podcast Flatbush+Main.