When I first began the research for developing a social history of the locale where my husband's ancestors had settled, I worked extensively with Census data. Looking at raw Census schedules, however, is not a practical way to quickly identify patterns within the pages. I wanted to look at specific pieces of information on one page that would eliminate the extraneous. So I created a database which presents only the information I cared to examine.
Below is a cross-section of my database of the 1910 Census for Township 5, Craven County, NC. The first column records the location: next is a listing of only those persons involved in work of some kind: the third and fourth columns record the type of work engaged: then I made columns for occupation. The first occupation column is farming. . . the second was timber. . . etc.
For this study, I wanted to determine if there was a location where farmers and timber workers were more densely concentrated. This is an area where my husband's ancestors lived. William H. Carter was my husband's grandfather's brother, or my husband's grand uncle. The Georges were my husband's g-grandmother's first cousins, or my husband's first cousins twice removed.
By mapping these statistics on a GIS map from the county tax assessor's office, I am able to reconstruct the beginnings of the social data I need for understanding the workings of a community.