Month: November 2017

Progress Report: Cornelia Adair and Digital Storymaps

Initially, I was hesitant to use Omeka, because I felt out of my element in navigating the program and struggled to do basic tasks (e.g., creating a simple wepbage and putting it on my home site). But after playing around with it for the better part of two weeks, I’ve grown to appreciate how powerful the program is (especially in connection to project-related plugins, like Neatline). I’ve gotten more confident navigating my website and adding/categorizing items to my exhibit on Cornelia Adair. Currently, my homepage looks like this:

As you can probably infer, I have some major work to do–for one thing, I need to type out an introduction (re: the “about” section) that outlines Cornelia Adair’s biographical context and significance. Right now, my next big task is to get familiar with Neatline. Although I can link the items I’ve created in Omeka to records on Neatline, I’m struggling to pinpoint the Neatline records to specific locations on a map (I had thought it would be as easy as typing in locations on a search engine, but alas….). Given that the bulk of my project focuses on mapping out biographical information to tell a story about Adair’s connection to geographic spaces, I need to develop the map on Neatline or consider using a different plugin.

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Progress Report: Map of Black Politicians in the Natchez Region following the Civil War

For my project I have been working with Professor Behrend’s research on black politicians in the Natchez region after the Civil War. My final goal is to create a map, or at least the prototype for a map, detailing each person Professor Behrend has information on. With the map, I want to emphasize the change in the amount of black politicians in this region over time. Focusing on this increase highlights the grassroots democracy occurring during this time period, which is one of the main concepts in Professor Behrend’s book. I believe that a visualization of this concept (in this case, a map) would further underscore the point, particularly in a form that takes less time to consume and process than a book.

As it stands currently, Professor Behrend has his research on each politician stored in an online spreadsheet. Besides name and political office(s) held, the spreadsheet also includes biographical information such as birth year, county, occupation (besides political office), wealth, literacy status, slave status, and party affiliation.

Online spreadsheet storing Professor Behrend’s research.

If all works out, I plan to use Omeka with the plugin Neatline and SIMILE Timeline in order to create the map. I chose these programs because of their ability to both create a map and incorporate a timeline. The timeline is important, I believe, because I want to emphasize change in the political circumstance of this region over time.

Installing Neatline has been one of the technological problems I have encountered so far. I have Omeka installed and running on my computer, but Neatline has been more of a problem. Apparently Neatline can be difficult to work with, so in order to deal with this Kirk and I have discussed getting a version of Neatline to run on a campus computer and doing the work for the project there.

Screenshot of the page I encounter while trying to use Neatline.

Currently Kirk and I are also working to create a comma-separated value (CSV) file of the spreadsheet data. One of the main problems we have been running into with the spreadsheet format of the data is slight spelling inconsistencies and multiple values in one category. For instance, the spelling of “mulatto” differs slightly between people (due to the different spellings in the original records Professor Behrend was working off of). While a person could understand that it is two different spellings of the same word, a computer cannot without being told. Different spellings have made the data somewhat harder to sort out.

The other main formatting issue occurs when one category has multiple values. For instance, if a person held more than one political office, those two (or three, or four, etc.) are all under the category “Political Position.” The computer reads each category as one value, so if one person was a constable and another was a constable and a delegate, it would not recognize those two people as having had the same position. “Constable” and “Constable and delegate” are completely different values (not overlapping) to the computer. In order to solve these formatting issues, Kirk and I are creating a CSV file, where a comma indicates that what came before and what comes after the comma are completely separate values, even if they are in the same category. This will allow me to work with people who had multiple positions, was illiterate at one point but literate at another, or any other category that has multiple values. This CSV file will be uploaded to Omeka as a collection, which will then be used to create the map.

Example of a collection in Omeka.

In terms of the content itself, the major issue is sometimes there is not enough specific information. For instance, the location for each person is a county. This means that many people have the same location, so when I try to map them they are all in the same spot. Instead of looking like multiple points on the map, it simply looks like one point for each county. In order to combat this, what I have decided to do is place each person randomly throughout the county and have a disclaimer somewhere on the map which indicates that this, within county lines, the placement of markers is random. Another content problem is that sometimes we are missing values for certain categories. While most missing values are simply inconvenient—as we would like to be able to provide more information on each person—the one area that is it hindering is if there are no dates for political office. However, this only happens in a few cases so I think if the people without dates for political office are just on the map and not the timeline, the overall trend of an increasing amount of black politicians in the region will still be shown.

While I have run into a few problems so far—particularly on the technical, formatting, and content fronts—I believe they are all issues which can be overcome with help as I move farther along on this project.

Progress: Cold War Constructs and How They Relate to the Bond Films

I’ve finally decided on a platform – WordPress. The simplicity of the layout, the editing tools available, and the interface all prove to be most effective in displaying my project. We’ve used WordPress before, but I had never spent much time playing with certain features or other tools.

After deciding on the layout, I began getting to work. I changed up the theme, font size, font color, the header image, the site icon, and much more.

My project, which can be viewed here, aims to provide evidence that shows the connection between the James Bond films and the social/political constructs at the time of production. Out of all 24 (well, 27 if you include the films not produced by Eon Productions), I tailored down a list of six films that I will use in order to establish these connections, all of which is mentioned in the synopsis of my project, on the project’s website.

Some challenges i’ve had in my work so far is StoryMaps. I haven’t worked with StoryMaps before, so when I tried integrating a blank map onto my WordPress page just to see if ti would work, I found myself confused and I ultimately gave up. I’ll have to come back to StoryMaps seeing how it is an essential part of my project, but for the time being the challenges it’s given me have been too much to focus my time on.

This would just add to the list of changes I’ve had to make to my project since the thought first arose. I was originally going to try and compare all 24 James Bond films to their social counterparts in society, but doing so would have taken much more time than I have to work on the project. Since I had to scrap my original plan, I came up with a new idea. I decided to just choose six films instead of 24. And instead of focusing on the general cultural reactions the movies had, I decided to shift focus on the relationships between the films and the era of the Cold War/Space Race. This way, I will still be able to influence the reader to analyze the James Bond films, but I can do so using a more time-efficient method.


Another change that I’ve had to make to my project is shifting my focus. As I briefly mentioned, I shifted focus from a broad view of the cultural constructs to the way that the Bond films respond to larger problems created by the Cold War and Space Race. This was harder to do because it meant that my list of films decreased. There were only a certain amount of films produced within the ten-year span that I’m covering. Fortunately for me; however, I have already picked specific scenes that are going to help further my exploration.

Progress: The MTA as a Model for Positive Corporate Propaganda

My website hosting this project is live and can be viewed at any time at

My projects purpose is to highlight a subtle aspect of New York City life that I find intriguing – the MTA’s advertisements. These advertisements work as a positive form of corporate propaganda to build a sense of community amongst riders, reinforce continued use of the subway, and unconsciously and subconsciously promote better ecological habits. This project examines a handful of advertisements to break down how the MTA does this and the impacts these advertisements have on riders. I also conclude my project by suggesting that others could emulate the MTA’s types of advertisements for a number of reasons that benefit both the company and its target audience.

This project adapts traditional humanities work by analyzing the inner workings of how the MTA establishes a unified community of commuters, exposing and unpacking some factors that hold the subway riders together in the community, and suggesting how this community could be replicated by others.

Traditional work in humanities could not analyze photos like I plan on doing in this project. The digital tools I am using (WordPress, StoryMapJS, Photoshop) allow me to make an intuitive platform for graphical analysis that could not be achieved as well on a non-digital platform. The one-page homepage format of navigating my topic also allows for more fluid ingestion and perusal of the information contained than could be grasped from skimming a research paper or a book. Aside from benefits to presentation, these digital tools allow for a wider sphere of access to my project. In paper format, it would be difficult to find a publisher to spread my ideas to others. An easily sharable website allows for widespread distribution and direct engagement with the readers through comments or my contact form.

I had touched on this earlier, but by the end of my project I hope that my readers can understand how the MTA builds and maintains such a strong and ecologically aware community through advertisement, and can be able to see similar elements and methodologies in other types of advertisements in order to appreciate them as positive. The project concludes that other companies can attempt to replicate such a style of positive corporate propaganda with advertisements on the internet or on television to the benefit of the company, their consumers, and the environment.

There are a lot of toxic commercials in our world and on the internet that leverage stereotypes, gender norms, unhealthy attitudes, or other unethical means to sell a product. I hope that through this project, readers will be able to differentiate positive advertisements from toxic advertisements, understand how positive corporate propaganda can benefit both the provider and the consumer, and will leave with an increased ecological and communal awareness that positively influences their lifestyle and mindset.


The site is designed to be fully experienced from the homepage, although there is a quick links tab on the left side of the page to provide hyperlinks to the introduction, each individual advertisement, and the conclusion. I chose this homepage format because I think it lends itself to the natural progression of analyzing photographs as well as keeping all the main information centralized and easily digestible.

The about section will be filled with a general outline of my process through making the website and the final list of tools used. The references tab contains MLA formatted references to the photos, informational resources  and digital tools used throughout the project. The contact section is a simple form to send me an email.

When clicking onto a single section from the homepage, the site redirects you to the individual post and allows for sharing options, leaving a comment or response, and shows the titles of both the previous and next section, with links to each respective one’s individual post. I think its important to have a comments section for each individual post so that readers can interact with me and each other on the topic of the subject matter. Each of the posts can also be edited and updated if there is something worth adding later on, making it easy for me to update the website and keep it up to date.


One problem I had was the need to find a good theme in WordPress that lends itself well to a one-page design and allows for showcasing photos in that one-page design. There are a finite amount of free WordPress themes, and it is quite easy to preview them with posts you have made already, so I was able to privately upload a number of posts and see how various formats handled the simple text and photo combinations. I eventually settled on the WordPress team’s theme “Twenty Fifteen” due to the simple solid color background, clean side bar, and the clarity each post had from another while showing the full text and photos.

Another problem was figuring out how to annotate my photos in a more intuitive and interactive way than just referencing parts of the photos in the text. I initially considered using an image map generator or the HTML <map> tag, although these are highly antiquated, non-user friendly, and unintuitive methods for annotating photos. Next I considered simple photoshopping of the photos with arrows or isolating elements and inserting them in-text. This can always be an idea I return to for highly important elements of the advertisements, but working with these pieces of the photos while still editing the text analysis for each photo makes it difficult to keep re-editing and orienting the elements properly in the text as I develop my ideas. Finally, I had tried using StoryMap JS earlier  in the semester to make annotations on my photos instead of a map, but I found trouble with the interface and could not figure out how to replace the map. I picked the effort back up after Dr. Schacht showed me a website proving that this was possible. I am currently making no headway on getting this to work, but it is ideal for what I want to do so I will be figuring it out.

A final problem I am having is finding good stock photos to include in my about section, references section, and contact form. Right now they are the theme’s default photos, but I plan on finding different cool stock photos related to subways or the environment or communities or something of the sort. I did use photoshop to combine a photo of a green earth and the MTA logo to make a logo for my site (shown left) which is featured on the top left of the homepage and in the site’s icon.

Through working on this project I have gained a better sense of how to work with WordPress, learned what HTML <map> tags are and why they are obsolete, and developed my understanding of aspects of graphical construction in building an easy to browse website. I also learned that there is a lot of information on the internet to help with any digital tool you need, so resorting to a google search is nothing to be ashamed of.

Progress: Evolution along the Erie Canal

My DH project is interconnected with my research in Dr. Steet’s INTD 203: Social Foundations of American Education. I am looking into the impact of the Erie Canal’s construction on population redistribution in Western New York. Specifically, I am analyzing the connection between the construction of the canal, and the growth of the town of Perinton, which contains the village of Fairport. Known as the “Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal,” Fairport is a village which grew economically dependent on the manmade waterway. The Establishment of the canal led to the construction of numerous schools throughout the area, which eventually became centralized in the 20th century. I plan to use mapping and timeline tools to show the evolution of the village and town.

I am currently using arcgis online mapping to plot educational points of interest in my home town. A few notable educators of Fairport were educated at schools along the canal, and returned home to teach following teacher education at Geneseo Normal School. Perinton saw a few stages of development in education structure, from one room schoolhouses to one centralized district. These changes were brought about by multiple notable events, and I am making chronological maps to display these developments next to each other.

One area where I have encountered difficulty is the implementation of a timeline. I have not yet decided if I will make a separate, interactive timeline to present next to my maps. I am learning more about arcgis and will potentially download their software to use in place of their online hosting. Within arcgis online, a user can outline areas on a map and add layers to add metadata. I have added points to my map at the current schools in the district with various pieces of information. I have looked into layering a few maps on top of each other to allow for quick transitions. This is a work in progress, and I will continue to add to my maps as I collect more data.


What made the Dead so Great?

Throughout the semester so far I have been conducting research for my project that is about the Grateful Dead. My goal for this project is to see what influenced each band member and why they decided to go through with music and being a “rockstar” when most people they came across in their early life told them that music will always be just a hobby, you could never make a real living out of it. Little did they know the Grateful Dead would soon destroy this image of rockstars.

When Professor Schacht introduced the project to us, I had this huge and truly great idea for a digital project. My first thought was to go through psychedelic rock as a whole and discover where the influences came to start this new genre of music. I sat down and thought to myself a little and thought about how much time I will have to complete this project if I go through with it and I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be too smart for me to try and figure out where this new genre of music came from, there just wouldn’t be enough time. My idea came from this book I am currently reading called, “Deal” by Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead).

 Newly constructed Goal

One of my favorite bands is the Grateful Dead and to sit down and do a project about them for school is just an added bonus for me to do. I have three main goals for this project. My first is figuring out what influenced each band member to be able to accomplish what they had done.I am currently doing research, which I have been doing for some time now, and I am figure out what each influenced each band member from Jerry Garcia to Donna Godchaux. My second goal is me working along side with Kirk Anne. He is helping me with my middle part of my project which is about text analysis. My last goal is to see the influence the “deadhead” community has had on the future generations. There are people like me and a lot of my friends that will never have the opportunity to hear Jerry play music, but for some reason we are just as much “deadheads” as the people from the past generations.

Lyrics of the Dead

Kirk is helping me with another aspect to my project. He took every Grateful Dead song and and examined their lyrics. He ran them through a database called “”. My next step for this part is to compare their lyrics and style of music to modern groups and bands. I gave him a list of couple of modern bands. The list is, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Dr. Dog, The Dove and The Wolf, and My Morning Jacket. The two main groups focus on are Phish and Dave Matthews Band. The Grateful Dead started the Jam Band movement. Without them jamming wouldn’t have been around for a while. 

This semester I am taking Music 291 with Dr. Kimball. This course is about folk music and mainly about Woody Guthrie and who he influenced. Woody Guthrie happened to have a slight influence on several band members in the Dead. This course ends off with a look on Bob Dylan and what he did for folk, blues and country. Also the dead toured with Dylan a couple of times and had impacts of each others careers.

My most stressful part is yet to come. I am a little behind most people because I have not set up a website yet. I am planning on using either Omeka or wordpress. As of right now I am leaning towards wordpress because I have a little experience with it and it is easy for me to navigate my way through.

My digital aspect to this project comes with the interaction one will be able to do when going through and reading this site. Throughout my research there have been many facts and interviews that are best explained by the person himself and not me. Like the project that I found in the beginning of the semester about indigenous LA I would like to have video clips of  what band members are saying about their own music. Along with that since my focus is their influences and what type of music they listened to growing up or what attracted them to the drums for the first time I am planning on inserting little audio clips of music. For example, when the Grateful Dead were The Warlocks, at first, they did not use electronic instruments, they were just a bluegrass band, that is it. Then came the introduction of these bizarre instruments that they seem to enjoying.


Historical Homestead

As the homepage of my Omeka site states, the overall goal of Historical Homestead is to utilize “virtual representations of the objects and rooms of the Wadsworth Homestead” to ” illustrate a larger connection between the Wadsworth family and Geneseo, Livingston County, and American history.” By examining select rooms and objects within the estate, I hope to draw connections from the founding family of Geneseo to larger contexts in history.

Initially, I set out to simply create a virtual representation of the Wadsworth Homestead. I have been conducting research on the remarkable home for my ARTH 288 course, Introduction to Museum Studies, and wanted to do more with this piece. Inspired by the virtual tours I have seen on museum websites like the Frick Collection and the Uffizi Gallery, I wanted to explore this approach with the Homestead. In addition, I wanted to highlight certain objects of the Wadsworths to better tell their story. This is a common aspect in other virtual tours in museums, allowing visitors the opportunity to click and explore more about an object.

The Frick Collection’s virtual tour of the Library. Notice how the desk is highlighted, meaning there is additional information that the user can click on.

After talking with Kirk Anne, we determining that a project like this was possible, both in terms of the technology available and the time constraints. To create a virtual experience, a 360° camera would be necessary to capture the entire room. With those scenes captured, we could upload them and configure their layout to render as virtual rooms.


Designing the Site

Busy with weddings and other events, the earliest I was able to get the Homestead free of guests to begin photographing was November 1st. To be able to present something in class the week before, I began work on the Omeka site that is going to host the tour. I decided on an Omeka site, over a WordPress or other digital tools, because it is the best platform to design an exhibition about the rooms and present the 360° photos.

The navigation bar of the website, showing the specific sections on the rooms and objects.

At first, I only did some of the basics, like choose a cover photo and font colors. As I began thinking more about the project, I designed special sections of the website to give direct access to specific rooms or objects quicker. This way, if a viewer wanted to learn more about a specific room or object without having to go through the entire virtual tour, they could easily access everything in these two sections.

Recently, I began experimenting with the HTML of the homepage text, and was able to change several aspects of it successfully.


Developing a Theme

Will Wadsworth, current owner and 6th generation of Wadsworth to occupy the Homestead, gives a tour of his family’s home.
Courtesy of

During our preliminary talks, Will Wadsworth expressed great interest in the project, with one reservation. The owner of the Homestead was worried that if a virtual tour of his home was published online for the public, tour groups would stop coming and the estate would lose a major source of revenue. I reassured him that nothing would be published publicly without his consent, and began research into the pros and cons of a virtual tour for museums.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an abundance of literature about the issue. To remedy this situation, I decided to narrow the focus of the site as a means of solving this problem. As a result, the goal of the project has become to illustrate connections between the Wadsworths and larger contexts by highlighting certain rooms in the estate. Through this narrowed lens I am able to leaving other rooms private. So, instead of creating just a “virtual homestead” as initially thought, I would argue this point of a larger connection though highlighting three select rooms and objects. Thus, I can still create a virtual tour of part of the house without feeling like I left certain aspects out, and Will does not feel tours will stop just from this sneak preview of the home. This solution is sufficient to both better arguing my point, while keeping enough of the Homestead away from the public’s screens that there will be no loss of interest to visit.


Shooting Begins

On November 1st, Kirk and I met Will at the Homestead to begin photographing. Both Will and I were surprised as to how easy the camera, a Samsung Gear 360, was to use. I simply set it up on a tripod in the middle of a room, moved out of the way (usually behind a door or in another room), and triggered the camera remotely via Kirk’s phone. From his phone, the three of us were able to view the photos in real time, and get a sense of what they would look like rendered on the Omeka site.

The Samsung 360 camera in use at the Wadsworth Homestead’s Library

We photographed every room on the first and second floor, often multiple times and from various view points. By that afternoon, Kirk had uploaded the images and sent them to me for viewing. The photos, as of now, are rendered as these circular photos, resulting from the two lenses of the Samsung camera. Kirk is working now to “bend” them into rectangular panoramas, for better viewing on the Omeka site. This hopefully will be done by this week.

The piano room
The main foyer and grand staircase








Traditional Humanities

Overall, I am pleased with how the project is coming along. The question still remains of whether we are going to put this site publicly on the web. Will Wadsworth wants to use these 360° photographs we have produced to show the estate to wedding planners and potential guests. Kirk Anne will be using these photographs as examples to put forth funding for anther 360° camera. So even if we never go public, I am glad that this project will be used by others outside of my specific aims for it. I wish that I had started photographing earlier, to leave myself more time to fully develop the Omeka site and everything, but I am not too worried. The next step, which is currently underway, is to decide what objects and rooms to highlight. I took note of important pieces, such as the Big Tree painting, a sculpture of Austin Wadsworth’s horse, Persian armor, and James Wadsworth’s Civil War sword, all of which are potential pieces I can use to present the Wadsworths in a wider context of history. Once the images are rendered as panoramas, and easier to view on the Omeka site, then final selections will be made.

Narrowing my focus, from a whole-house virtual experience to using a select number of rooms and objects to illustrate connections, has created a great project and connected my digital work with more traditional humanities work. Like a typical historical essay, I will be arguing a point using historical evidence and facts. The digital twist comes when the viewers of the site are able to interact with the house and historical objects that I use as evidence in my argument. Thus, I am performing traditional humanities work in a digital environment.

Progress: Sandstone Trail

Finally, I’ve managed to get an instance of Omeka up and running, and have begun transcribing my information from my Excel spreadsheet to Omeka. The goal of my project is to still create an archive of buildings that use Medina Sandstone in New York, while also providing metadata such as their location, architect, construction year, etc. I’ve narrowed down the buildings to those that are in the “Sandstone Hall of Fame,” which was created by the Medina Sandstone Society. 

Despite prior problems with Omeka, the platform has proven to be quite accessible. It was very easy to upload my information on to the platform and create tags for metadata along with it. The difficulty now lies in getting the mapping plugin, Neatline, to create a map for the information I’ve uploaded. This map is central to my project, because it is what differentiates this information from its physical form, by providing a visual of the buildings and their relation to each other, and Medina. 

Once this visual portion is up and running, it will reveal some of the observations that I’ve already discovered through my work. For instance, the concentration of buildings decreases greatly as the distance from Medina increases. This raises interesting questions as to why this was. Perhaps transportation issues? Also, what was the primary transportation method for the sandstone? Another observation was that there weren’t any buildings in the list that were built past 1901. What is the reason for this? Did the sandstone industry see a decline during this time? Was there a lack of resources? Or maybe a lack of interest?

A limitation of Omeka that I’ve noticed is the inability to display an image right on the page of the item that is selected. This could just be due to a missing plugin, and the image can still be opened from the page, but it’s an aesthetic issue that does bother me. Another limitation is the lack of aesthetic options to change the style of the page. I’ve have to look more into this to see if I can find a cool theme. Another feature that does not seem to be present is a graphing function, so that I could display the frequency of the buildings that were constructed and when they were most/least popular. I’ll probably just end up creating that graph separately and uploading it individually. Lastly, the lack of functionality with Neatline is annoying, but hopefully Kirk will be able to find a solution, so that I may begin working on that aspect of my project.

Progress: Women Writers & Social Change

My project is a text analysis of the works of American women writers in the 19th century. Based off the core texts I read in Dr. Caroline Woidat’s ENGL 439: American Ways: Plotting Women, I hope to prove with digital tools that women writers in this period were intent on tackling pervasive and even controversial social issues. This work will attempt to break down misconceptions that early American women were confined to the sphere of domesticity in their writing by examining their works’ relationships to topics such as slavery, education, economic empowerment, and more.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet E. Wilson, and E.D.E.N. Southworth

Establishing connections between literary pieces and historical contexts is a traditional humanities aim, allowing us to understand what these texts may be responding to or influencing. Like many projects, it will focus on identifying trends, patterns, and language to support this goal. The benefit of digital tools, however, is that they allow us to push the boundaries of what a single human scholar can study; using Python, Voyant Tools, and/or other programs with text analysis capabilities, many lifetimes of reading can be processed at once.

One of my main obstacles in tackling this project has been stepping outside of my comfort zone and embracing the broad scope that digital tools can allow my work here to have. I’ve read roughly eight texts for the class this project is stemming from, and I initially intended on just analyzing those – I know them well, which means I can run them through text analysis with the results already envisioned. Below, the spreadsheet I’ve been developing this semester lists these women and their literary works on top:

Discussion in class and my meeting with Kirk Anne, however, have pushed me to include many more writers and texts in this analysis. Kirk can pull every text file from Project Gutenberg (happily, the time period of focus here precedes copyright law) and apply commands to them in order to identify the word choices, patterns, and relationships I’m looking for. That’s tens of thousands of options, which opens up so many opportunities – we could compare trends in women’s writing across time periods, compare them to a canon of typically much more well-known men’s works, etc. There is an honestly overwhelming amount of approaches, but for now, I am focused on finding a wider selection of American female authors within the window of the 19th century, using the writers I initially intended to analyze as major touchpoints.

This process is a challenge in itself, as I find myself running into the most sweeping questions English as a discipline faces – who do we read, and why? Which books and authors should I include, and on what basis? It’s also technically difficult; Project Gutenberg does not make distinctions between male and female authors, so Kirk has been working to parse that out based on name – leaving a massive chunk of authors in uncertain territory. The Excel file he has compiled of all the women writers on Project Gutenberg that he can identify is still monstrous, however!

Kirk Anne’s Excel spreadsheet listing all 4,103 identified women writers on Project Gutenberg; here are just a few in the range of birthdates to death-dates I’m focused on.

As I broaden my canon, I also have to identify which women are American on my own. I’ve been doing this by cross-referencing the Excel file with some Internet research on women writers within the given period (which, again, brings me back to an ideological conundrum about finding authors who aren’t going to pop up in Wikipedia lists but still had important things to say).

Here, I’ve identified Susan Warner as American and have highlighted her many texts as possibilities.

There’s also the question of genre; in my original selection, most texts are fictional novels, but there are lots of women writers in this period who were publishing nonfiction, poetry, or, in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s case, defenses of their own novels. There’s a lot I’d like to include that will force me to really consider how comparable different types of texts are and where data might be skewed.

Voyant Tools

Another, less mind-boggling obstacle is just my level of technical proficiency. Voyant Tools, intended for this type of digital scholarship, has been a great free resource for me as I begin to explore the connections between texts and social concerns on my own. With these, I can create frequency-based word clouds using the Cirrus tool, visualize the relative frequencies of word usages across all my texts with a graph, and get some data about which texts are longest and use the most unique words. Voyant Tools is user-friendly; you simply upload the text files you intend to use and it runs them for you on their website. Then, you can change which tools you’re using, make your own restrictions as to which words you want to search for within texts, and then export the results as images or embeddable HTML.

A Cirrus word cloud based on some of the core texts I’m using with specific “stop words” edited out (i.e. said, he, she, the, and).
Tracking the relative frequencies of a few key terms (orange = slave*, green = christian*, pink = school*) across texts – slavery hits a huge peak in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Voyant Tools does have significant limits when it comes to more advanced or particular text analysis attempts, which means Kirk Anne has been doing a ton of work on this project, pulling files and running his own commands. I do not have the programming knowledge to carry much of this out, which means I’m really going to be relying on his expertise and working to decide what I want to look for and how that can be pulled off. I’ve been really impressed with the range of possibilities this has opened up; for me, analyzing texts has always meant closely reading them, whereas he can find patterns in over 10,000 works at once.

Once I finalize my list of texts, I can start delving into finding the patterns I’m hoping to identify. In the next few weeks, I can hopefully compile some interesting results and display them – which leads to more choices and digital tools, for I am debating creating a WordPress to host this project and also developing a TimelineJS timeline of the women writers being showcased.