Why Choose Birth Years? You’re Looking at a Cemetery!
I gave a lot of thought as to why I was looking at birth years as opposed to death years when I was handed a data set containing the information on individuals buried in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. For me it was simple: when people were born sometimes says a whole lot more than when they died. People can die for a whole bunch of reasons, but people are often born during times of economic prosperity, movement, and social change. A large event that is closely tied to the Lexington area is the Civil War, and I wanted to take a look at whether or not there was a correlation between the Civil War and the number of births during the five years prior and the five years after.
Granted, these births could be attributed to a number of things. They could be due to a baby boom with all of the soldiers coming home after battle. They could also be due to human migration and more people moving here after the end of the war due to various social climates and needs. Although my data cannot tell me specifics such as this, I am able to extrapolate from my data that there is indeed a correlation between birth rates and the Civil War. The cause, however, is left to be determined by historians.
Going further, I could use the rest of the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery data to look at the birth rates during the Civil War itself instead of focusing solely on the five years before and after. In addition to this, I could also take the data of the Evergreen Cemetery and look at how birth rates varied among racial groups during the time period. However, this could be made very difficult by the lack of concrete information available about the Evergreen Cemetery.