Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 42

The Population of a City Changes Through Time


Students will examine population statistics for the City of Cleveland from 1810 - 1990. Students will compare the population statistics of African-Americans in the City of Cleveland with the overall population statistics for Cleveland.



  1. How has the population of Cleveland changed through the years?
  2. What factors contribute to the slow or rapid growth in population in a city?


  1. Begin by asking students if they know how many people live in the city of Cleveland today? How do we know the population statistics of a city? (the U.S. Census ) Review with students information about the U.S. Census including that it is taken every 10 years. Why do we have a census? What can be done with the information from a census?
  2. Explain to students that census population data can give historians information about a community, its citizens, and how a city grows and changes through time. Distribute Handout #1. and review with students, noting how the chart should be read and what information is contained on the chart. Distribute Handout #2. and discuss with the class. This can be done as a class lesson, reviewing and answering all questions in class, or you may choose to use this lesson as a group or independent assignment.
  3. Once students have completed the worksheet, have them transfer the population data for the City of Cleveland and African-Americans onto a bar graph. This can be done individually on a sheet of graph paper, or as a class activity on a large sheet of shelving paper. Review the chart with students drawing their attention to changes and patterns in population.
  4. As an extended activity, have students complete Handout #3. Statistical Inferences Worksheet. This can be done as a group activity. Be certain that students have texts and The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History or Cleveland: A concise History, 1796-1990 by Carol Poh Miller and Robert Wheeler, to use for reference and research when answering these questions.
  5. As an additional activity students may decide to conduct their own census. They can complete a census of their classroom, other classrooms of their grade, or the school community. They will need to brainstorm what information they want to gather and then develop the census questions. They will also need to decide how they will gather the data, collate the information, and what they will do with the data once the census has been completed. Focus areas of discussion may include questions on how different the census data would be if it was done in September in their classrooms and again in May. What changes might occur? Why?

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