Friday, April 22, 2016

Tme to Celebrate!

For this week’s internship we spent time working on some of our projects and celebrating all of our work!

On Monday, I went to UCF and continued to scan scrapbook pages with the RICHES MI scanner. This proved to be a little difficult since I had to re-name and re-organize the files as I went. A little background - The scanner had messed up our numbering system and Betty and I could not figure out how to rename the scans on either of our personal computers. However, we discovered that the external hard drive seemed to work with any UCF computer. So Betty started renaming the scanned images on her work computer. Then, it was my responsibility to rename the old photos and fix the new photos as I scanned. The interesting thing, it sounded easy enough in theory, but proved rather difficult. For example, according to the book, I needed to save page x as page 38. But, there was already another page, mislabeled due to the scanner, as page 38. So before I could scan the real page 38 I had to figure out what page the mislabeled page 38 was really supposed to be named, fix that one, and then upload the new one. Well, when I uploaded the right page 38, the scanner would automatically number it as to fill in numbers were missing. So, once I scanned the image, I would have to go back through the pictures to find where the computer had placed it… then… I could finally give it the accurate name – page 38. I know this sounds like a silly story, but I think its important because it demonstrates some of the technical difficulties of archival work. Normally, I could get about 20 pages scanned each hour. This time, I could only get about 6 pages scanned.

A few days later on Thursday ,I went to the church like normal. I continued to add metadata to a new scrapbook.

Then, on Friday, I had the opportunity to go to lunch with all the ladies involved in the project. This was such a special time!  I got the chance to meet Nancy, one of the ladies who’s helped with the research part of the project. She was full of knowledge about some of the history of the church that wasn’t in the scrapbook. For instance, she knew details about one of the church’s pastors, Douglass. She learned about the different churches he had served at before going to FBCWP.  Shirley, Nan, and Nan’s husband joined us as well. Nan flew down from North Carolina just so she could be with us! And then, about half way through lunch, the church Pastor showed up – Walter Jackson. It was such a pleasure talking with him! Pastor Jackson has a heart for this archival project and it’s really cool. Pastor Jackson studied history for his undergraduate degree, so he has a unique interest in the project. When he showed up, he asked each of us what we had learned about the church. And I have to say, that was the coolest thing. It was really neat to be at lunch with everyone and to be able to tell the pastor some of the most interesting things we’ve learned in the project so far. I showed Pastor Jackson the word cloud, since that was one of the coolest discoveries I’ve had this semester.

Even though the semester’s over, the project will continue on! If you’re interested in being involved, contact Betty Sample with the University of Central Florida.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Annotated Bibliography #3: What is Digital History?

What is Digital History?

Thomas, William G. “What is Digital Scholarship? A Typology.”
William G. Thomas III (blog). February 28, 2015,

In this post, Thomas provides categorization for digital scholarship. In categorizing such scholarship, Thomas hopes to promote discussion regarding digital scholarship reviews. According to Thomas, digital scholarship falls into one of three categories: interactive scholarly works (ISWs), digital projects or thematic research collections (TRCs), and digital narratives.  ISWs are “hybrids of archival materials and tool components” that provide a methodological argument based on a “historiographical concern.” TRCs combine tools and archival material “framed around a historiographically significant” problem and contain primary sources based on a specific historical them/research question. Digital Narratives are “born digital” works of scholarship that contain arguments “embedded within layers of evidence and citation.” Digital narratives differ from traditional ebooks in that they are nonlinear and contain “hypertextual structures.”

Thomas, William G. and Douglass Seefeldt. “What is Digital History.” Perspectives on History. May 2009.

In this article, Thomas and Seefeldt look at three areas of digital history. First, as they consider “What is Digital History?” they suggest that it differs from traditional scholarly practice in the ways that it “might be understood broadly as an approach to examining and representing the past that works with the new communication technologies of the computer, the internet network, and software systems” (Thomas and Seefeldt). After defining digital history, the authors look at the next stages of digital history and then the future of digital history. Considering the future of history, while the authors acknowledge that digital tools might challenge the traditional methods of historians, scholars should embrace new methods available through the use of digital technology.

Cohen, Daniel J., et al. "Interchange: The Promise of Digital History." The Journal of American History, Vol. 5, No. 2., 2008: 452-491.

In this article, authors Cohen, Frisch, Gallagher, Mintz, Sword, Taylor, Thomas, and Turkel discuss the promises of digital history. Written as a transcription of an interview, this article as a whole various methodologies, technologies (such as Zotero), the bridge between traditional and digital history, the institutional resources needed to develop the field of digital history, open access, research, and more. Looking at the first part of the article specifically, the JAH defines digital history as “as anything (research method, journal article, monograph, blog, classroom exercise) that uses digital technologies in creating, enhancing, or distributing historical research and scholarship” (453). In discussing the origin of the term, Thomas notes that himself and Ayers were likely the first to use the term in their essays about The Valley of the Shadow project. For a specific definition, Thomas shares that digital history is both “an open arena of scholarly production” and “a methodological approach” using new technologies to form new research questions about the past (454). Looking at the promise of digital sources, Turkel notes that such sources can be easily created, altered, duplicated, transmitted, stored, separated, and more (454). Joining the conversation, Cohen highlights the abundance of sources as a result of digital technology. From Mintz’ perspective, digital history has developed through a number of stages; Mintz argues that the world is currently experiencing stage 3, which is based on active learning and collaboration through wikis, social media, and more.

Cohen, Daniel J. and Roy Rosenzweig. “Promises and Perils of Digital Technology.” A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

In this chapter, the authors argue that there are both pros and cons to using digital technology in digital humanities. Considering the pros, the authors argue that digital technology offers great opportunities. First, digital technology provides more storage capacity than ever before. Second, digital technology is more accessible as it can easily make sources available to the public. Third, digital technology is flexible in that as a medium, it allows scholarship to take a variety of forms including texts, pictures, sounds, etc. Fourth, digital technology supports diversity as it engages with a number of authors, people of different ethnicity, gender, etc. Fifth, digital technology provides manipulability as it allows individuals to research strategically (like word searches on JSTOR). Sixth, digital history provides interactivity as it allows communication between students, teachers, parents, and more. Seventh, digital history has an element of non-linearity in the way that digital history allows individuals to look at history in new ways both narratively and spatially. In addition to the promises of digital history, the authors list several problems with the field. First, there is the issue of quality as often times the internet provides links to inadequate sources. Second there is the issue of durability as digitized items can become out of date and be unable to function with current technology. Third, there is the issue of readability as it is sometimes difficult to identify a thesis within digital history projects. Fourth, there is the issue of passivity as a result of interactivity given that often times such interactivity comes in the form of yes or no decisions, keeping the user from thinking critically and processing the scholarship. Fifth, there is the issue of inaccessibility given that 2/3rds of the world does not have access to the internet.

Ayers, Edward L. “The Past and Futures of Digital History.” University of Virginia, 1999.

In this essay, Ayers discusses the both the history and the future of the field of Digital History. Ayers explains that while society as a whole as embraced digital technology, it is “unusual for a historian to pursue the full implications and possibilities of the new technology” (Ayers). In discussing the future of the field, Ayers explains that history, ironically, might be better suited for the use of digital technology than other fields in the humanities. For example, Ayers argues that in the field of history, writing has never been better, computers are growing professional communication, publishing is now available online, and the community is experimenting with technology like digital archives, and more. Furthermore, he suggests that due to developments in technology, hypertext, hypermedia, and an interest in social science might unite. He concludes by saying, “Only historians can decide whether history will participate in the intoxicating possibilities of a true hypertextual history, of a reconstituted social science history, of an entirely new kind of immersive history. Only we can decide if we want to make use of any of the tools that are being created for purposes far from our own current practice” (Ayers).

What is Spatial History?

White, Richard. “What is Spatial History?” Spatial History Lab. February 1, 2010.

In his article, Richard White first explains how Stanford’s Spatial History Project operates outside of normal historical practice being that it is collaborative, uses visualizations, depends on computers, is open ended, and contains a conceptual focus on space. Then, after sharing Lefebvre’s idea that humans produce space over time, White discusses Lefebvre’s triad of spatial practice, representations of space, and representational spaces. Spatial practice “involves the segregation of certain kinds of constructed spaces and their linkages through human movement” (2). Representations of space are the “documents of city planners, politician,” etc. (2). Finally, representational spaces are “space as lived and experienced through a set of symbolic associations” (3). Yet, according to Richard White, the most important aspect of spatial history is movement, being that “Spatial relations are established through the movement of people, plants, animals, goods, and information” (3). While White acknowledges that maps are important to spatial history, maps are static while movement is “dynamic” (3). Thus, spatial historians must embrace the use of new technologies like ArcGIS that help to visualize movement and allow scholars to better study physical space (inches, feet, miles, etc.) and relational space (the time it takes to travel between locations, the cost of travel, etc.). Most importantly, White argues that spatial history is more than simple visualization, rather, “it is a means of doing research” to generate new questions (6).

Thomas, William G. “Is the Future of Digital History Spatial History?” Newberry Library Historical GIS Conference, March 2004.

Analyzing the future of digital history in relation to spatial history, Thomas first shares the thoughts of Janet Murray, a leading critic of new media and narrative. According to Murray, the four keys to a successful narrative online are based in the fact that “work must be participatory, procedural, encyclopedic, and spatial” (1) Then, after looking at the spatial history projects like Paul Carter's The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History, Thomas shares that according to Carter, spatial history “advances exploratively, even metaphorically, recognizing that the future is invented” (3). Overall, Thomas argues that spatial history purposes to “recover contingency in its description of the past,” deconstruct the hegemony of linear narrative, present multiple perspectives, reject the positivism of empirical methodologies, and more (5). Perhaps most powerfully, Thomas notes that spatial history purposes to “spatialize history,” not “historicize space” (5).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Digitizing scrapbooks on twitter? #ArchivalUnvertainties

Several weeks ago Dr. French sent me an email about a tweet by Scholarslab on Twitter. The tweet read, “Bridget Moynihan unpacking complexities of digitizing scrapbooks—rights, ephemerality, remediation. #ArchivalUncertainties.” If you’re like me, when you read the tweet, you thought how cool…. Other people are talking about digitizing scrapbooks! Even cooler, because we live in the digital age, I could use the hashtag #archivaluncertainties to do some more investigation on the topic. What I found was pretty cool, so I thought I would share it with you!

So, what happens when you search #archivaluncertainties?

Well, clicking on the hashtag, I found a lot of people talking about different speakers who were discussing a variety of issues related to archival work. Doing a little more research, I discovered that this particular hashtag was the title of a conference held at the British Library Conference Centre in London on April 4, 2016. Once I discovered the name of the conference, I was able to find a brief description of the event. According to blogger Sebastian Gurciullo,

The conference “represents an opportunity to explore the uncertain future of literary archival sources in the present age. While information technology is changing rapidly and bringing new possibilities for the democratisation of knowledge, debates remain" about how to handle archives in the digital age.

Upon further investigation, I discovered the conference's program. The program revealed a variety of speakers addressing a range of topics about archival practices. Personally, I was most interested in Bridget Moynihan’s article, given that from someone’s tweet, I could tell that Moynihan was lecturing on digitizing scrapbooks. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any articles, websites, or blog posts written by Bridget Moynihan. What I did find, however, was a blog post by the Bodleian Library that held a brief description of Bridget’s talk.

According to the Bodleian Library, Moynihan’s area of interest is digitizing the scrapbooks of Edwin Morgan. As an archivist, Moynihan wants to digitize these scrapbooks in order to make then available to as many people as possible and to have the scrapbooks digitally preserved. Furthermore, Moynihan believes that digitizing scrapbooks allows people to manipulate data in new ways. For example, Moynihan shares that the documentation of an object’s metadata allows information to be shared in analyzed like never before.  Interestingly, Moynihan reveals that there are creative possibilities for metadata, “like using sound to represent the different aural qualities of news clippings versus magazine clippings.”

Personally, I found the creative possibilities for metadata to be very interesting. Thinking about the FBCWP project, I wondered… what would it look like to incorporate sound into metadata? As I started thinking, lots of ideas came to mind! For example, the church scrapbooks talk about the music ministry all the time. I know the church has recordings of their church services. How cool would it be to get recordings of the choir and attach it to the metadata that addresses the music ministry at the church?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Annotated Bibliography Cluster II:Writing and Reviewing Digital Scholarship

On Writing In Public/Peer to Peer Review

Daugherty, Jack, and Kristen Nawrotzki, eds. Writing History in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Written as a peer review volume and published in both print and open access online formats, this collection of essays purposes to “explicate and embody” the opportunities that historians have as a result of the digital age. Furthermore, this volume purposes to challenge traditional beliefs about writing and publishing scholarship. Among many topics, essays discuss historical writing in the digital age, visual/spatial based arguments, blogging in the academy, and more. For example, author Ansley Erickson argues that digital tools allowed her to discover new interpretations of her sources that she could not have discovered otherwise. Most importantly, the books’ qualities of being born digital, having open peer review, and being open access, demonstrate the changing practices of publication and peer review in the field of history.

Graham, Shawn, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart. Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian's Macroscope. Hackensack, New Jersey: Imperial College Press, 2016.

Publicly writing their book online, the authors edited their book as they received feedback from the community and ultimately published their book as a hard copy and online. As a result, the book’s pre-publication “Final Draft” is made available online for free. While the book’s ideal target audiences are undergraduate students, graduate students, researchers, and professors can all benefit from this book alike. Divided into three sections, the authors effectively structure their book around three areas of emphasis: the first part of the book provides an overview of the field of digital history, the second part of the book holds an “emphasis hands-on textual analysis,” and the third part of the book looks as networks as being a type of analysis and a powerful visualization (11). Through their work, the authors demonstrate different tools available to digital historians; examples of tools include wordle, regular expressions, and voyant. While their book is structured more like a textbook and less like an argumentative narrative, through the way the authors wrote and published their book, they successfully demonstrate that history can be written publicly, be made available online, and still produce revenue. Through their work, the authors promote open access, collaboration, and peer review in the digital age.

Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

This book is structured as a collection of essays by a variety of authors in the field of digital humanities. The various essays are categorized in such a way as to cover 6 topics: defining, theorizing, critiquing, practicing, teaching, and envisioning the future of the field of digital humanities. One essay in the defining digital humanities section, “This is Why We Fight:” Defining the Values in the Digital Humanities by Lisa Spiro, uniquely contributes to the historiography of the field; in this essay, Spiro suggests promoting the core values of openness, collaboration, collegiality and connectedness, diversity, and experimentation within digital humanities. Another section of the book, criticizing the humanities, contributes to the literature of the field as it talks about critical topics that need improvement within the field; for example, this section discusses ways to equally promote the field to both men and women, developing digital technology with universal design principles, and more.

On Methodological Transparency

Blevins, Cameron. “Mining and Mapping the Production of Space.” Online accompaniment to “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston." Journal of American History. Vol. 101, No. 1. June 2014,

Published in 2015 as the first digital methods essay, this metagraph serves as an supplement to Blevins’ 2014 article, “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston." In this metagraph, Blevins explains his visualizations, the meanings behind them, and the ways he interpreted them. Explaining his methods, Blevins shares the way he used distant reading to analyze how The Houston Daily Post created space in the late 19th century. For example, Blevins explains how by counting every instance of place names, he was able to “flatten” the text and ignore context; for instance, he shares that the word “Dallas” on the front page headline was given the same weight as the word “Dallas” in a retail advertisement. In all, this essay represents the changing practices in the field as it answers the call to methodological transparency by providing explanations and contextualization to the author’s methods. Furthermore, while Blevins does not reveal his target audience, he is likely writing for traditional historians, other digital historians, reviewers, and anyone reading his JAH article.

Gibbs, Fred and Trevor Owens. “The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing.” Writing History in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Writing to digital historians, Gibbs and Owns ask the question, how can digital historians expect others to accept their new methodologies when the “new ways of working with data seem like a mysterious black box?” Considering this, the authors conclude that the new ways of digitally interpreting data demand a methodological transparency. As part of explaining methodologies, Gibbs and Owen argue that authors should be clear what their data implies and does not imply, how they interpret evidence, and how they intend to use their evidence. Through their work, the authors explain that as historians embrace the opportunities in the digital age, they must share their hermeneutics of data (their interpretation of data) in order to gain respect as digital historians.

On Digital History Reviews

Cameron Blevins, "The New Wave of Review." Posts (blog). March 7, 2016,

Written as a blog post, Cameron Blevins shares how digital history is experiencing a new “review wave,” pointing to the AHA Guidelines for American history, the JAH’s first digital reviews, and other examples. In discussing the lack of online reviews for digital history, Blevins shares how the immediacy of blogging and the challenge of subject specialization make it difficult for digital projects to be reviewed online by other digital historians. Analyzing the new wave of digital reviews, Blevins shares how such reviews can often be categorized as pedagogy and public engagement, academic scholarship, and data and design criticism. Taking issue with these types of reviews, Blevins argues that digital historians to substantially review digital scholarship “in terms of new historical knowledge, insight, and interpretations that these projects contribute to the field.” Writing for digital historians and scholars evaluating digital scholarship, Blevins concludes that digital reviews should be based on a project’s methodological strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the project’s historical contributions.

Georgini, Sara. “Reviewing Digital History.” The Junto. January 2015,

Presented as a transcription of an interview between Dr. Jeffrey McClurken and The Junto, this blog post discuses reviewing digital history. In his interview, McClurken answers questions about his initial experiences in the field, the influence of big data on his personal scholarship, his own professional career, the influence of digital history on peer review, and more. Discussing peer review and digital history, McClurken notes that in digital history, there is no single audience, but rather, different expectations depending on the project’s target audience. Thus, when he chooses which digital projects to review, McClurken tries to review scholarship that covers lots of topics that use different methodologies to meet the expectations of different audiences. Overall, this blog speaks to the field’s developing practice of digital reviews.

Guidelines for the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship in History. America Historical Association, 2016.

This posting discusses guidelines for reviewing digital history projects based on suggestions from the AHA. According to the AHA, digital projects fall into one of the following categories: archive, electronic essay/exhibit, teaching resources, tool, gateway, journal/webzine, organization or virtual community. Additionally, the AHA outlines several guidelines for evaluating digital projects; such guidelines include addressing the topics of content, form, audience/use, and new media. While this post is primarily written for individuals reviewing digital scholarship, it may also be written for creators of digital scholarship to set a standard for which their scholarship will be evaluated. Considering this, this post serves to normalize the changing practice of digital reviews.

Lichtenstein, Alex, Joshua Sternfeld, Stephen Robertson, Natalie Zacek, and Vincent Brown. “AHR Exchange: Reviewing Digital History.” American Historical Review. Vol. 121, No. 1, February 2016: 141-186.

For the first time ever, in its February 2016 issue the AHR featured two reviews (and author responses) of digital history projects. This is significant for both the development of the journal and the field of Digital History as a whole, as digital projects seek to earn the same respect shown to traditional, print scholarship. For its first DH reviews, the AHR looked at two interactive web based projects: Digital Harlem: Every- day Life, 1915–1930 and Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760–1761: A Cartographic Narrative. Both digital mapping sites, these two projects show how “digital tools can reveal both geospatial and sociohistorical patterns not visible through a more “traditional” reading of the historical sources available” (141). Comparing the two digital project reviews and their associated author responses, Digital Harlem was criticized for its lack of argument while Slave Revolt in Jamaica was praised for its historiographical contribution.

Guldi, Jo, David Armitage. Deborah Cohen, and Peter Mandler. “AHR Exchange: On The History Manifesto.” The American Historical Review. Vol. 120, No. 2. April, 2015: 527-554.

In The History Manifesto, authors Guldi and Armitage argue that historians should embrace the role of using the new long dureé methodologies to study the past in order to understand the present and predict the future. Written for professional historians and junior scholars, this book serves as a call to arms for new long dureé studies. In their review of The History Manifesto, Cohen and Mandel take issue with Guldi and Armitage by claiming that the evidence used to support The History Manifesto’s arguments are often taken out of context, misinterpreted, and lead to opposite conclusions. In response to the critique, Guldi and Armitage highlight the judgmental tone of the critique and then reaffirm their arguments in The History Manifesto by further explaining their evidence.