Final Project

I noticed a common trend within the readings and it was the emphasis on collaboration and the importance of interdisciplinary effort in order to create these research projects. In particular, author Cameron Blevins describes how human scholars have depended on collaboration throughout the digital humanities movement. He ended on an optimistic note and concluded with, “it is the best strategy for humanities research to flourish in the twenty-first century.”

Digital history has an integral role in spatial history and allows this study to be viable. Figure one is a visual account of the rates of travel from NYC, comparing the year 1830 to 1857. The notable difference is the increase of travel in relation to the American railway system. This map provided a clear representation of how this technological advancement changed the lives of American’s. White describes the issues with how spatial history has been limitedly reported in terms of exceptional history. He breaks down three different types of spatial movement to categorize them by their type of human movement. White argues that while the use of maps are historically beneficial, they are static unable to accurately represent dynamic movement.

Blog Post #1

Civil War Governors of Kentucky

The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition is an online archive that provides information on the state government of Kentucky during the years of the Civil War. This website helps document the complex political climate of the state of Kentucky. The aim of this project is to grant recognition to those who have lacked representation in Kentucky’s state history. This included the lives of Kentucky citizens who lacked a platform to be heard during the state’s suffering. The intended audience is the general public and aimed to teach the state’s history to a large scale of individuals. The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition was funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. This contract contained two grants funded through the Publishing Historical Records In Documentary Editions program. The publication is a continuation of the Kentucky Historical Society and supports scholarships across the nation. The project’s legitimacy can be assessed through its careful selection of sources. The documents must adhere to a high standard of accuracy and have to meet specific guidelines, i.e. must be within the correct time frame of 1860-1865 (with specific date exceptions), or must be endorsed or originated by specific representatives. The sources span from large resources such as the Military Records and Research Branch of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, as well as smaller publications including family papers of poorly documented governors. This page contains immaculate reports on the previously uncovered history of Kentucky’s Government during the Civil War. It adheres to a multitude of audiences and contains an inclusive span of historical records.

Blog Post #2

 Bergis Jules, Ed Summers, Dr. Vernon Mitchell, Jr., “Documenting the NOW White Paper: Ethical Considerations for Archiving Social Media Content Generated by Contemporary Social Movements: Challenges, Opportunities, Recommendations,” April 2018, was a fascinating read and provided insight into the ethical challenges facing the digitization of social media. These issues are extremely prominent in regards to the current political climate and social media’s major impacts. One ethical challenge that relates to our practicum is the difficult task of ‘applying traditional archival practices to social media’. The way users interact with Social media is completely different than any past sources of digital information and challenging to measure. Social media has given new abilities in spreading information and misinformation. 

Digitizing these online conversations will create a new history and remembrance of the truth, thus making it a difficult task for digital historians to navigate. In regards to metadata, social media does not follow the traditional protocol and fails to properly source information. As Jules, Summers, and Mitchell explained, the risk of hidden third party involvement is high for social media sources. Online exploitation specifically targets minority groups and causes them to be more vulnerable to data collection. I think it’s important to digitize the history of social media content for the purpose of improving future data collection.

Link to my Exhibit

http://jessiemartinblog.com/cms/s/Exhibit/page/WomensRights

Blog Post #3

Author Stephen Berry writes CSI Dixie with the purpose of sharing a side of history that has yet to be recognized. Berry emphasizes the historic records of coroner’s offices and the data that concluded thousands of deaths. The project is described as ‘living’ and invites others to collaborate on the investigations. CSI Dixie covers several decades and counties over topics that have changed gradually throughout American history. Comparing the different factors of counties, (slave percentage, geographical conditions, i.e.) changes how the reader interprets the provided data. His focus on the coroner’s office provides insight into what both life and more importantly, death looked like in the nineteenth-century South. The data enlightens the reader on the twisted morals of the time and the failure to adhere to more than one demographic. Berry also explains the importance of understanding how to interpret humanities data and how the lack of data for certain deaths is a key factor. The images and data require context in order for the reader to understand and they are heavily intertwined in telling the story. The reader is able to navigate through the website with autonomy and it’s easy to jump to selected topics. The story is divided into different subsections; Genesis, Numbers, Acts, Judges, Chronicles, Exodus, and Revelation. The most memorable aspect of CSI Dixie is the creative aesthetic and symbolic style. It draws the reader in immediately and makes reading the story a unique experience. This format created a more inviting approach to academic works which makes it more applicable to different types of audiences.

Documentary

Blog Post 3/04/2021

Dr. McDivitt provides an enlightening perspective on the origins of the industry and how gender roles are intertwined in the foundation of Video Games. An interesting note from chapter one was Dr. McDivitt’s mention of the timeline. She implies her lack of sympathy towards the misogynistic conversations that occurred and the close proximity to the second wave of feminism. Their awareness of the inequality of the industry did not stop them from furthering the imbalance. Her arguments conclude that a woman’s role was subject to man rather than the focus itself. If she was the focus, it was through her attractiveness and sexuality. Dr. McDivitt used a range of sources from interviews and publications to ‘locker talk’ intimate notes. She included various magazines such as Play Boy Magazine, Video Games Magazine, Joystick Magazine, and Electronic Games Magazine. She included excerpts from Strong Museum archives, as well as the model rating sheets from 1983. Other sources include interviews (Roberta Williams and Carol Shaw interviews), Arkansas Times, and the Los Angeles Times. 

I think gaming is an important way to bridge history onto other platforms and therefore other audiences. I believe the traditional style of history consumption is through linear means which puts too much of an emphasis on memorization rather than understanding. The user interactiveness of a video game puts the audience in the perspective of the subject which can be a valuable tool and model for teaching history. This theory only applies to video games with accurate depictions of history. A roadblock I face when I play out the idea of a historic video game is the issue of gaming conventions and the autonomy of the narrative. The player would have to be an outsider to the main topic of history occurring in the game, or they would have to have a limited amount of autonomy in order to not infringe on the history. After playing Civilization in class, I did some research and read an article by Edsurge that enlightened me on the different teaching benefits. The game can benefit by engaging a student in the topics and create an experience that allows for decision-making and understanding the consequences.

Interesting Article on Red Dead Redemption by Donald Reid

Blog Post 03/11/2021

Governor Andrew B. Moore is remembered as a significant secessionist but this legacy is incongruent with the ideologies he originally was elected with. He studied law and became a justice of the peace for eight years before joining the House of Rep as a Democrat. He represented Alabama as a delegate at the Nashville Convention which discussed the Compromise of 1850. He ran for governor in 1857 and did not share the opinions of his opponents who were extremely in favor of state secession. In his first years in office, he reflected a reformist attitude and worked on projects like the Peter Bryce mental hospital*, the Alabama School for the Deaf, Tennessee River Railroad, increased appropriations for Alabama schools, and prison reform*. Moore was renominated but ran against Samford who represented the extreme southern-rights faction. Moore’s opinions on succession changed after John Brown’s raid and he fought for southern rights by 1859. He pushed for various acts that prepared the state to defend itself. Rather than follow South Carolina’s Governor William H. Gist’s call to secession, he preferred an alternative resolution that would be dependent on the presidency. When Lincoln, the Republican candidate, won the election of 1860, Moore saw secession as the only option. His term ended in 1861 but he still participated in helping the state with different war efforts. Moore’s cause of death was not given but he was honored for his courage and leadership for his actions in leading the state. 

*He had a particular interest in the hospital due to his wife, Mary Ann Goree’s personal struggle with mental illness.

“{Moore} arranged through his daughter’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Napoleon Lockett, to have artist Nicola Marschall design a Confederate flag.”

– Encyclopedia of Alabama
Self Portrait of Nicola Marschall
Courtesy of the First White House of the Confederacy

Ayers

Ayers provides two examples of theories by Thomas Jefferson and Emily Burke who argue that Southern violence is connected to slave-owning which causes a lack of control in temper and aggression. He then offers a counterargument by Frederick Law Olmsted who argues that owning a slave would encourage the opposite behavior. Ayers argues that the meaning of honor has changed and does not hold the same value as its meaning. He blames Southern violence on their passion to defend their honor. He compares southern honor to the adjacent dignity of the north. He describes honor as a more vulnerable attribute to the southerner, therefore, when punctured there is a higher stake and more of a need to defend oneself. He claims honor was present before slavery but thrived in the state of slavery in the south because of the ideal conditions. “Slavery generated honor” (p.26) In his theory women have a different relationship with honor and are important to act as a reward for the honorable man.  In Chapter 4, Ayers argues the difference between the two counties and the way they clash under the same criminal justice system. Ayers argues several different theories that explain a correlation between African American’s and theft. He closes the chapter by posing a question to the reader that paints a threatening picture of society if slavery were to end. 

Lastly, the handwriting of my documents does look challenging to read but I see a consistent trend in penmanship and think I’ll become accustomed to the style. I’m excited to start the transcription process!

Blog Post 03/23/2021

Sara A. Howard and Steven a. Knowlton 

KOS has proved to be a useful tool for arranging American academic libraries in the past but it fails to cater to those outside the mainstream. Although minority inclusive work is accessible in academic archives, it requires the researcher to use specific references and keywords to gain access. The categorization of archives draws to a more important issue of American history and how certain works have privileged accessibility. This further cements the heterosexual white male dominance of American society. Failing to prioritize minority works discourages inclusion within the research industry. Libraries represent a society’s consideration of valuable work and the current categorization sets a notion of inequality. 

Crystal Vaughan 

Vaughan emphasizes the importance of language and its ability to control information and power. Throughout American history, the voices of African American’s have been oppressed and the LCSH system perpetuates this inequality. Librarians today have a social responsibility to change classifications despite the challenges and move towards equal accessibility. Library headings are influenced by Western ideology and its usage within LCHS classification reinforces western control. Technological advancements within the field of digital history have opened a new possibility to an equally represented and accessible future. With that being said, librarians now have a social responsibility to implement the changes required for this goal. 

Blog Post 03/06/2021

Visualizing Emancipation is a really fascinating project and I appreciated the inclusion of patterns and event types along with the visual of the US map. The map itself is an important tool but as described by Guldi in his article on spatial mapping, it can be limiting. However, this project included the different layers that provide context to the data.

Blog Post 04/13/2021

Topic modeling is a powerful tool for digital historians to organize vast amounts of information and structurally connect concepts together. Prior to this creation, the exploration of archives was extremely time-consuming and nearly impossible. With topic modeling, historians are now able to interact with historical archives in a highly more productive way. David Blei theorizes topic models to remain and further their importance in the future of digitized archives. An important component to topic modeling is the flexibility of the algorithm. As we discussed in class, without altering the system’s algorithm, the output information is less beneficial to the researcher. Cameron Blevins article titled, “Topic Modeling Martha Ballard’s Diary”, pointed out the limitations within MALLET and discussed how the system generated associations that were incorrect. Blevin’s solved part of this issue by minimizing the amount for the system to generate, therefore allowing a more relevant search depending on the chapter’s topic. I was fascinated by MALLET’S ability to record the frequency of ‘housework’ and the way Blevin’s associated it within a hidden pattern of the book. Although topic modeling lacks human intelligence and emotion, its ability to numerically log figures without perception of emotional importance is a powerful tool. 

Final Project

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