About the Growth Data

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visualizing Philadelphia


The Krogman Growth and Development Study Collection

The Krogman Growth Study archive was started by Wilton Krogman. Krogman (1903-1987) was an American anthropologist who pioneered the fields of physical and forensic anthropology during his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1948, he founded the Philadelphia Center for Research in Child Growth for the purpose of developing standards of growth for normal healthy children of elementary and high school age. The Center became the site of the most comprehensive collection of growth data from children in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan region, and the largest longitudinal study ever conducted on human growth in the US. 

The vast Krogman Growth Study data collection is now physically located at both the Penn Museum in Philadelphia and in an offsite warehouse holding over 70 file cabinets of medical records from visits over several decades. These records provide a detailed history of the growth and development of about 7,500 individual Philadelphia area school children from birth to adulthood (many of these individuals have been recruited into the 8th iteration of the study). This abundant cache of "big data" includes dental and hand-wrist x-rays as well as medical histories and a range of behavioral notes about the children and their families, including employment and residential information. 


files and cabinets

family and health history chart

From the 1940s through 1970, several thousand school age children were enrolled and followed with the cooperation of the Philadelphia Board of Education and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Data was collected during visits to the Philadelphia Center for Research in Child Growth, started by Krogman. At each visit, enrolled children were evaluated in both dental and skeletal development and detailed notes recorded for each child, including medical histories, nutrition, and a range of notes about behaviors and family employment and residential information. To generate data from this physical collection of "big data" that we can visualize, we tabulate by hand and digitize selected fields of data from samples of the larger collection. 



Neighborhood Locations

To generate our own data set from the vast Krogman collection, we began by collecting participant data from four particular neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area. These locations exposed children to different social and physical conditions that could be reflected in the Krogman Study growth data. Mt. Airy is a middle-class suburb on the edge of the city proper; North Philadelphiawas the city's center for industrial manufacturing, where a number of ambient contaminants, such as lead from smelting operations, existed throughout the study period and into the present; West Philadelphia is a mixed residential and light commercial neighborhood at the nexus of two interstate highways; and working class South Philadelphia fronts both I95 and the Delaware River, which supported a major naval shipyard, dockyards,  and food distribution centers and slaughterhouses.  

Four neighborhood photos arranged in a square

participant density mapfour selected neighborhoods