Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
SUGGESTIONS FOR A STUDY OF YOUR HOMETOWN*

Robert K. Lamb

[EDITOR'S NOTE (by Elliott D. Chapple): Because of the importance in applied anthropology of early field training, preferably in the second year of concentration, it is obviously necessary for this kind of training to take place in and around the university. Consequently, we believe that our readers who are concerned with teaching programs will be interested in this memorandum which Dr. Lamb gave to his students at M.I.T. Needless to say, the memorandum is primarily concerned with urban studies and should be considered not as a complete description of field technique but rather as points of emphasis with which the student might not otherwise be familiar.]

THIS presentation is written as if you were visiting Hometown for the first time, and as if your organization had instructed you to arrive as quickly as possible at a comprehensive knowledge of Hometown so that you might effectively represent it there. Towards the end of the presentation I shall have something to say about the advantages you, with your long experience in the community, would have over a newcomer in your own Hometown.

To do this job of community-analysis there are certain tools you will obviously need. A map of Hometown is your first tool, for a brief glance at it will provide the trained eye with more facts than could be secured from any other source. (This of course depends upon the map; most street maps are featureless without an accompanying street directory.)

Prior to 1890, American street directories were even more useful than they are today, but they are still an indispensable part of any such investigation as this. There are three principal divisions of the average directory: (1) the alphabetical name section for individuals and business firms, organizations, etc.; (2) the street directory listing each house or building, and usually each separate family or business occupant of such

____________________
*
Human Organization, Vol. 11, No. 2 ( 1952), pp. 29-32.
Editor of Human Organization, Summer, 1951, to Summer, 1956.

-422-

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