Doing Justice

GenEd 0853



Census Data and  Hazleton City (PA)

This assignment combines a "how to" research guide on locating current US Census data for a jurisdiction, a "fill in the blanks with what you find exercise," and a writing assignment that could be done as an in-class exercise, or a take home writing assignment. It is written up here as a short take home writing assignment.

This assignment serves several purposes:

  1. You will learn how to find and interpret U.S. Census data. This is a key data source for describing the country. Being able to find it helps you meet the goal of information literacy. Being able to interpret it also helps you meet the goal of quantitative literacy.

  2. These data provide empirical background to the recent debate about the foreign born in Hazleton City (PA). You will consider those data in light of what you know about recent developments there. These data may provide you with more insight into the origins of these developments.

Before you begin this assignment, and after you have read the materials about recent developments in Hazleton City concerning illegal aliens, write down and put away someplace two estimates: the percentage of total foreign born living in Hazleton City at the time these laws were passed, and the percentage of illegal aliens living in Hazleton City at the time these laws were passed. Total foreign born would include foreign born who are here legally on visas, foreign born who have become US citizens, and foreign born who do not have permission to be here.

SECTION 1: Obtaining Census Data
You will look up 2000 and 2006 Census data for a whole jurisdiction (like a city or a county or a municipality). The example here uses Hazleton City. Substitute as needed. Depending on the jurisdiction you select you may or may not get 2006 estimates

Go to the second floor of the tech center or to the drop in labs in the basement of Anderson. Open a web browser (Depending on whether you open IE or Mozilla your results may vary. Recommend Mozilla.)

  1. Go to:

2.      On left, click on decennial census. 2000 Census comes up.

3.      click on “POPULATION FINDER” on left hand menu.

4.      in upper right fill in “Hazleton City” for city/town, and “Pennsylvania” for state.

5.      Under “view more results” click on “Fact sheet”

6.      2000 Census data come up. There are no data for 2006. The 2006 data are available only for larger jurisdictions. If 2006 data were available, you would see a tab that says “2006” and a tab that says “2000.” You could switch between the two.

7.      Look for the variable total population.

8.      Look for the variable “Foreign born.” It will give you a number, and a percentage, and a percentage for the jurisdiction.

ALSO - if you click on show more it will tell you the numbers and percentages that are "Naturalized citizens" vs. "Not a U.S. citizen."




Hazleton City: Total Population 2000: _________

Hazleton City: N Foreign Born 2000: _________


Hazleton City: % Foreign Born 2000: _________


US: % Foreign Born 2000: _____________


9.      To see WHERE these folks are click on map opposite the variable.

10.  The map comes up. With this geography it is coming up showing census tracts. Above the map there is a dialog box. You can get more detailed information, using a smaller geography, the census block group if you click on the tab.

11.  Want to see what the number and percent foreign born look like in Luzerne County? Back up to the fact sheet page and key in “Luzerne County” leaving the state “Pennsylvania.”

12.  Click on 2006 tab if it is not already highlighted.

13.  Opposite “social characteristics” click on show more.

14.  At top you will see total population. Scroll down until you see n foreign born. These numbers have error margins because they are based on samples. Whereas the 2000 Census is everyone, in non-census years there are only estimates available.

15.  Click back to the previous page, and click on tab for 2000.

16.  Click on show more opposite social characteristics.

17.  You should see both the N foreign born and the percent foreign born


Luzerne County: total 2006 population: ________


Luzerne County: Total foreign born 2006: ___________


Luzerne County: % Foreign Born, 2006 (you calculate): ______


Luzerne County: % Foreign Born 2000: _______


SECTION 2: Reflecting on what you have found.

You will write a short "reaction" piece to these data. As part of that reaction piece you will include a table of information, clearly labeled, that includes the information you have learned about the variable foreign born. The table could be structured as follows. Include it as Table 1 at the end of your paper, on a separate page.

Jurisdiction Hazleton
Year 2000 only 2000 2006
Total population      
N Foreign Born      
Percent Foreign Born      


Your paper should address the following points:

  1. Describe the change in the variable percent foreign born in Luzerne County between 2000 and 2006.

  2. Describe the differences in percent foreign born between Luzerne County and Hazleton City. (The numbers for Hazleton City are included in the numbers for the entire county.) Which place has a higher percentage?

  3. Given the changes in all of Luzerne County between 2000 and 2006, and the differences between the overall county and Hazleton City, in what ways, if at all, does this help you understand the concerns of Hazleton City residents?

  4. How did the Census data compare with your original estimates? Why do you think you  (pick one) over or underestimated?

  5. How "wrong" do you think the census data could be on this variable, and why, given what you know about how these data were collected?

If your instructor asks you to submit a pdf file, you may have trouble converting your word doc or the web page generated by the census information into an Adobe pdf file. Here are some tips.


In the CLA computer labs (basement Anderson Hall), and probably in other campus labs, you can RIGHT click on a web page and it gives you an option to save it as PDF or print it to PDF


 This is courtesy of Mr. Dan Reuven who took this course in the Fall of 2007. (Thank you Dan!). I have edited his steps a little, but have not tried following them.

1. Go to type in Adobe and click on Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 to download it if you don't already have it. (This will download a trial version which is good for 30 days. It will stop working at that point.)
2. After installing/Updating Adobe open it up click on "File" then "Create Adobe PDF Online"
3. If it doesn't take you to the website go to and give them your email address to become a member
4. Once a member you can convert a website page to a PDF File five times for free. (Of course, if you became a new member with a new email address, well…)
5. Just sign into the website then click on "convert a webpage" then just copy and paste the URL or address off of when you are at the 2000 Philadelphia Census. (This was the page you were trying to upload).
6. Then when it asks you how you want the file, select email me file as an attachment so you can download the Pdf file and then upload it do Turnitin.


Some folks have indicated that TURNITIN did not want to take an Adobe pdf file.  So if you already have your pdf file, you can insert the pdf file into Word. These steps are for Word 2003 – not sure how it works with Word 2007
- open a blank word document
- click on insert
- click on object
- click on the tab "Create from file"
- highlight the adobe pdf file
- click on it
- it should come into your word doc
- save your word doc and upload that.