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Dr. Mónica Salas-Landa used a Digital Humanities in the Classroom Grant to develop a class project in her Spring 2017 course “Anthropology & Sociology 201: Environment and Culture.” Read on for her reflections on the semester!
How can we understand the many ways in which people shape their environments and are, in turn, shaped by them? Although this basic question might be an expected centerpiece of a 200-level course titled “Environment and Culture,” my class last spring invited students to engage with this line of inquiry in the most direct and substantial way possible: across the semester, students developed research projects on a local landscape in Easton and made an argument about the nature-human dynamics that they encountered there. They drew on ethnographic and historical methods in order to analyze their chosen landscape and participate in relevant scholarly debates, which we discussed in class. The goal of this assignment, then, was not only for students to gain experience “reading” an actual landscape but also for them to develop a more robust understanding of how their own existence at this time and place is inextricably connected to other complex relationships between humans and their environment.
Students’ ethnographically and historically informed research, moreover, served as the basis for a collective class project: the development of a digital collection and exhibition based on material connected to everything from local dams, industrial parks, and cemeteries to roads, community parks, and food markets. During their research, each student collected, on the one hand, an image, sound recording, or video of their field site and related it to a piece of historical evidence, which they found in Lafayette Special Collections & College Archives or at the Easton Public Library. Using Omeka, a web-publishing platform for displaying archives, collections, and exhibitions, students catalogued their material, entered metadata, and created an exhibit page in which they further explored the relationship between concepts discussed in class and assemblies of items from our collection.
By incorporating a digital humanities component into this class, I was able to introduce students to ethnographic and historical research of primary sources as well as the critical thinking involved in creating an archive. Through the selection, organization, cataloguing, and analysis of a myriad of documents, photographs, sound recordings, and videos of the Easton area, students connected their own research to wider theoretical issues about how representations of nature are constructed and disseminated. The site, which remains a work in progress, can be viewed here.
Further, drawing on the digital humanities in this course has also helped me to imagine ways of expanding and sharing my own research results on environmental degradation in oil zones in Mexico. I hope to use Omeka to develop a public “toxic archive” in which community members can document and record the harmful presences of oil and its infrastructure. In a context where the invisibility of toxicity works to mask or deny it, rendering its noxious effects visible is of utmost importance.
Dr. Lindsay Soh used a Digital Humanities in the Classroom Grant to develop a class project in her Spring 2017 course “Chemical Engineering 370: Alternative Energy Sources.” In this course students are introduced to how to compare different energy technologies based on a number of different metrics. Read on for her reflections on the semester!
The idea of my Digital Humanities in the Classroom project was to communicate how an energy technology works to the general community and allow for greater understanding of the course metrics using data visualization. Specifically, the students’ project involved research into a chosen renewable energy technology.
The students first underwent literature-based research to understand the technology’s fundamentals. Next, they were asked to find and interpret data related to the technology in order to gain a deeper understanding of the feasibility of the energy source. The project consisted of a comprehensive report of the renewable energy technology that also incorporated how to communicate the findings with the general community. As such, the digital project included a visualization of the major findings that could be expounded from the data set and as related to the course metrics.
Using the data analytics platform Tableau, students created public sites that provided a context and story for the visualization. This resource is being made available to the Nurture Nature Center as a possible tool for their energy education program, and the public sites are also being posted on the my website.
Throughout the course, the concept of visualizing and interpreting data was discussed several times along with discussion and analysis. Furthermore, in collaboration with librarian Sarah Morris, the DH training consisted of several targeted sessions that sought to answer the following questions with the students
- Why is data visualization important?
- How to find and build data sets?
- How to use Tableau software for the final project visualization?
Upon reflection, I think that the integration of DH aspects into the course was largely successful. It has been my goal since coming to Lafayette College to provide students with the tools necessary to better communicate fact-based arguments. This project has served multiple purposes, allowing the students to explore a particular research question as well as develop ways to use data to explore a novel research question and communicate the findings.
The basic structure of the project worked well for these goals, however one shortcoming became apparent in the final products – the students were not able to utilize the data visualization software to its full abilities. For example, while the graphics that students produced were visually appealing, they were limited mostly to two variable comparisons; the beauty of data visualization is in the ability to elegantly intersect 3 or more variables to tell a different the of story with the data. I think that adding an extra deliverable would aid in this objective.
NCC (the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources) hosted a conference with the University of Toronto Libraries called Doing Digital Scholarship in Japanese Studies: Innovations and Challenges in mid-March. I was asked to give two short talks – one focusing on creating digital collections with students and partners, and one about using digital projects as a teaching tool in undergraduate learning.
Conference speakers included university librarians, faculty and CLIR postdoctoral fellows, describing their differing approaches to digital scholarship. Tokyo Metropolitan University professor Hidenori Watanave gave the keynote presentation, demonstrating a number of creative and interactive archive building projects he has been developing. Watanave’s projects group videos, photographs and data associated with people who experienced some of Japan’s most devastating disasters – the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the battle of Okinawa in 1945, and the 2011 Eastern Japan Great Disasters. Visitors to Watanave’s archives can navigate maps to access the movement of people over time, watch video recordings of their stories or interact with other archival resources. Watanave is developing phone apps that use artificial reality (AR) to provide the same experience for visitors to these cities in real-time. Other digital scholarship sessions featured innovative map projects, local history work and a comprehensive scholarly image organization system.
I also visited Japan, where I negotiated the building of a digital archive. The project aims to digitize tens of thousands of objects, photos and documents collected over a 70-year period. The collection features evidence of the pervasive military culture in Japan in the 1930s, but also preserves documentation on local history and governance, folklore, religion and festivals, family life and economic change. The digitization project will commence July 2017.
Last, I attended the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) conference held in Albuquerque. Concurrent with the CNI conference, I attended the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) mid-year conference, which included targeted sessions for fellows on grant writing, project updates, career mentoring, and the creation of small group projects. Time spent reconnecting with others in the cohort fostered collaboration on various aspects of our postdoctoral projects.
My thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NCC and CLIR for providing generous support for these learning opportunities.
On Sunday, April 2 from 1-8 p.m., Skillman hosted a Data Rescue in association with Data Refuge and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI). The goal of the event was to contribute to a national effort to back up vulnerable data critical for research in the environmental sciences, including areas related to climate change and renewable energy development. With Sunday’s event, Lafayette joined colleges across the country in a national effort to protect vulnerable climate date. Recent and upcoming Data Rescues include events at Yale, UC-Davis, Harvard, and Haverford, among many other campuses.
The Lafayette College Data Rescue was an immense success, drawing 70 registered participants including students, faculty members, staff members, librarians, and Easton community members. Lead coordinators of the event, Dr. Carolyn Buckley (Psychology) and Dr. Caleb Gallemore (International Affairs), explain the importance of the Data Rescue movement:
“Since 2008, EDGI, with the help of the Internet Archive (IA) and wayback machine, has been harvesting federal data at the end of every presidential term. This has become increasingly difficult with each election, as many data sets are too large for their automated web-crawler, or they include video or interactive data access that must be harvested manually. The amount of data to be harvested has increased from roughly 25 TB in 2012 to over 200 TB in 2016. For this reason, DataRefuge and others have been organizing Data Rescue events where concerned citizens assist in harvesting our most vulnerable data. This includes the contents of government web pages, as well as the scientific data that are only accessible through links on those pages.”
Student, librarian, and faculty “guides” at the Data Rescue wore yellow hats and brought a fantastic degree of fun, energy, and enthusiasm to the event. A huge thank you to student collaborators from the Lafayette Association for Computing Machinery, the Lafayette Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, and the Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection. Special thanks also to the Provost’s Office, International Affairs, Psychology, and the team at Skillman Library.
The East Asia Image Collection (EAIC) has just added 453 picture postcards to its open-access database. These items range from “Yellow Peril” genre Russo-Japanese War cards from Europe to Japanese photo-journalism of the 1930s invasion of China. The collection also contains vistas of “Manchuria,” scenes from everyday life during wartime, and military-humor manga postcards. The EAIC is a collaboration between Paul D. Barclay, Associate Professor of History, and Digital Scholarship Services. Visit our open-access archive digital archive including picture postcards, high-quality commercial prints, and colonial era picture books, among other unique materials.
When we talk about the digital humanities, often we’re thinking about how digital technologies can be applied to humanistic inquiry and pedagogy. But Amir Sadovnik, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, is interested in how humanistic concerns and questions can enrich introductory studies in computer science. On March 22, Dr. Sadovnik gave a presentation on his teaching as a grantee of the Skillman Library Digital Humanities in the Classroom program.
In Dr. Sadovnik’s “Intro to Computer Science” courses, students learn the essentials of programming. Most students enter with no programming experience; over the course of the semester, they build the skills to program a tool to analyze data sets consisting of, for example, Lafayette College Yik-Yaks, or candidates’ Tweets from the 2016 presidential election. Sadovnik explained that in his traditional introductory computer science course focused on digital media computing, students learned to develop and implement algorithms for final projects such as basic sound and image editors.
With his Digital Humanities in the Classroom grant, Sadovnik aimed to make the leap from digital media processing to analysis. His teaching goals included: challenging students to construct more complex data structures in order to accommodate more complex data sets; providing students with the experience of working on a development team, as preparation for the workplace; and providing students with opportunities to work with data sets that interest them. Dr. Sadovnik’s thinking was that if students could work with data that connect with their multidisciplinary research interests in history, political science, sociology, and other areas, they would connect more meaningfully with the programming tasks at hand.
Student presenters who had taken Dr. Sadovnik’s courses also offered their reflections on the DH in the Classroom experience. Shira Wein, Wassim Gharbi, and Alec Flanagan showcased their work from the class. All of the students testified that working with complex, meaningful data enhanced their introduction to computer science. Thank you very much to Dr. Sadovnik and his student co-presenters for sharing their important work!
This spring, Data Visualization & GIS Librarian John Clark will offer two workshop opportunities for students and faculty to learn about critical cartography. Reading a map is trickier than you might expect. While maps casually present themselves as a visualization of reality, the truth is, all maps are imperfect models of natural and cultural features on the surface of the Earth. Reading a map involves understanding how a map maker has chosen to represent these features and, perhaps more importantly, what s(he) has left out. Join for a guided tour through a variety of different historical and contemporary maps as John explains some common principals used by cartographers. Participants will then have an opportunity to make a map using Social Explorer, an online mapping tool available to the Lafayette community through Skillman Library.
This event is being offered twice, Wednesday, February 1st and Friday, February 3rd, from 12:15pm to 1:00pm. Please RSVP to John Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate if you would like to attend the Wednesday or Friday event. Lunch provided.
DSS recently welcomed James Griffin as the new co-Director for Research and Development. James joined DSS in the position of Digital Library Developer in 2012, and the team at Skillman is thrilled that James agreed to step into this new role. Motivated by an interest in digital preservation and scholarly communication, James is deeply involved in the application of open source technologies within librarians and archives. James’s research interests focus on the semantic web. He aspires to expand the usage of linked data beyond the domains of digital preservation and curation. He is also intrigued by the potential for Development and Operations (DevOps) service management methodologies to increase durability and performance in technical infrastructure through server virtualization.
Since joining DSS, James has worked on implementing Islandora, an open-source digital asset management framework. He has also collaborated with faculty on the Swift Poems Project, the East Asia Image Collection, and the Easton Library Company Database Project. Since 2015, James has been exploring how linked open data may be further integrated within the digital repository architecture for DSS. He is Skillman Library’s liaison to the Project Hydra community. In his new co-Director role, James will continue to collaborate on faculty projects and lead the migration of DSS digital assets to the Hydra repository solution. James is excited to execute a vision for DSS anchored in the values of open-source collaboration and digital library preservation. Congratulations, James!
Guest-blogger Will Gordon ’17, one of the Skillman Library 2016 Digital Humanities Summer Scholars, reports on a successful presentation at the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference.
Last Friday, I piled into a van with four of my friends and fellow digital humanities scholars to drive to Bucknell University to present our undergraduate research and learn more about digital humanities. Research and Instruction Librarian Sarah Morris, who is also the leader of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholar Program at Lafayette College, drove us to the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference (#BUDSC16). Tawfiq Alhamedi ‘17, Caroline Nawrocki ‘18, Mila Temnyalova ‘18, Johnny Gossick ‘18, and I were all part of the summer program, in which we each designed, researched, and realized our projects.
Now it was time to present our projects to a crowd of undergraduates, graduate students and academics through a panel session and electronic posters. Dinner and the keynote speech from Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University Tressie McMillan Cottom filled the first night. We learned about incorporating the digital humanities into a sociology graduate program, and saw ways to pursue these interests after graduating from Lafayette.
It was our turn to present the next day. Tawfiq, Caroline, Mila, and Sarah partnered up with members of Gettysburg College for a panel session on how to design a successful undergraduate digital humanities research program. Other attendees at the conference tweeted and commented on how impressed they were with Gettysburg’s and Lafayette’s programs.
Afterward, Saturday’s keynote speaker, UCLA professor Safiya Noble, spoke about biases in search engine algorithms at lunch and their effects on the way people perceive race and gender. Her talk illustrated the power of algorithms and information bias in society, and proved the importance of doing good digital scholarship.
As the day came to an end, Tawfiq, Caroline, Johnny and I took part in an electronic poster session while academics and other attendees drank wine, ate hors d’oeuvre, and wandered the room to listen to our presentations and others.
After packing up our things and going to a panel session Sunday morning, we began the journey back to Lafayette. Although, at times, scholarship can be a strange endeavor, we were excited about the opportunity to present our undergraduate research projects, and the positive feedback we received.
Which road systems were built along Native American trail ways, and why? This research question, formulated by Molly Leech ’17 for her senior thesis in Anthropology and Sociology under the supervision of Professor Andrea Smith, represents the sort of historic geographic scholarly inquiry that John Clark, Data Visualization GIS Librarian, loves to support in his role at Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services (DSS). John offers a “Making Maps” workshop series at the Skillman Library that introduces students, faculty, and librarians to such tools as Google Maps, Social Explorer, and ArcGIS, a popular desktop GIS (Geographic Information Systems) application available to the Lafayette community at Skillman. He also supports faculty and student research projects such as Molly’s. While attending John’s “Making Maps” workshops to learn about digital tools she might use to explore her thesis topic geographically, Molly had the opportunity to share her research question with John, and she now works closely with him on a substantive GIS component for her thesis.
According to John, “maps and geographic understanding are relevant to nearly every major at the college–from Environmental Science to History to Civil Engineering and all points in between. Furthermore, mapping software has become simpler to use so that students can create their own geospatial data from spreadsheets or by extracting information from historic maps. This data can then used to make their own custom maps. I can assist students, whether it’s finding the right map online for a class assignment or assisting them with mapping software so that they can create maps from their own research.”
Molly explains that a geographic lens has been central to the development of her research. “My thesis retraces the history of two former Indian trails that intersect at the historic ‘Four Corners’ of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. By contextualizing maps from the late seventeenth century to present day with archival source material such as town histories and newspaper articles, I hope to reveal how these Indian trails transitioned to early colonial and present-day roads. This research allows me to explore the processes involved in the creation of a settler sense of belonging as well as the politics of street-naming and place-making.”
Molly emphasizes that the GIS component of her thesis is crucial to understanding her topic. “It’s not an easy job to try to locate these former Indian trails on the landscape–archival sources often use long-gone farms and homesteads as geographic points of reference. Luckily, with the help of John Clark, I’ve been able to use archival maps from the same time period as my sources to retrace the Indian trails and then overlay present-day road maps onto this data. When I began my thesis research, I didn’t expect to be using GIS, but now, these compiled maps will be presented as part of my thesis to help re-conceptualize our surroundings and challenge the dominant narrative of Northeastern American colonial history.”
For Molly, her GIS exploration is thus central to her critical examination of settler colonial narratives in American history. “There’s something to be said about the fact that we don’t tend to talk about the fact that many of the roads we drive on are former Indian trails. When we think of pre-colonial America, the dominant narrative is that settlers encountered an untamed wilderness; the idea of the intrepid pioneer is glorified. However, it makes complete sense that a settler nation would make use of the indigenous populations’ trails, and indeed start to settle along them. When we are conscious that we are driving on former Indian trails, we are reminded of our colonial history and we become more conscious of the longtime presence of Native Americans on the land.”
Are you interested in incorporating a mapping component in your research or teaching? Contact John Clark at email@example.com.
Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services team members James Griffin, Digital Library Developer, and Adam Malantonio, UI/Web Developer, represented Lafayette College at the recent Hydra Connect meeting October 3-6 in Boston, MA. Collaboratively hosted by the Boston Public Library, Northeastern University, WGBH, the Digital Public Library of America, and Tufts University, Hydra Connect brought together diverse stakeholders in Project Hydra. Hydra is a multi-institutional collaborative community that develops open source software solutions for digital asset management in academic libraries and cultural heritage institutions.
The first small liberal arts college in Hydra, Lafayette College was designated a Hydra Partner in June 2016, thus joining the ranks of large research universities and museums that have hitherto constituted the Hydra community. Nominated by Princeton University as a result of its innovative digital repository development work, DSS at Lafayette will bring a fresh liberal arts perspective to the national Hydra conversation about what values and priorities should inform developments in digital asset management.
As a Hydra Partner, DSS commits to make substantive development contributions to the Hydra community. In addition to pioneering the use of Hydra in a liberal arts college library and representing Hydra to peer liberal arts institutions, DSS plans to migrate the MetaDB feature set into a Hydra application. This will enable other Hydra institutions to use the DSS-developed MetaDB distributed metadata collection tool, the first and only web-based application to split digital collection building tasks among several people. Originally developed by Eric Luhrs, MetaDB allows librarians to create new projects, define metadata requirements, and import high-resolution master TIF images into the system. Then, faculty collaborators who are subject specialists, as well as students completing digital archiving tasks as part of their coursework or internships, can access the system remotely and enter descriptive data about each item. This collaborative approach to digital collection building integrates library preservation, faculty expertise, and undergraduate learning. In this way, MetaDB is paradigmatic of the liberal arts values DSS brings to Hydra digital repository development.
Thanks to James and Adam for representing DSS and Lafayette College at large at Hydra Connect 2016!
Digital Library Developer James Griffin Presents at Digital Scholarly Editions Conference in Graz, Austria
Digital Library Developer James Griffin of Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services recently presented at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conference hosted September 23-24 by the Centre for Information Modelling at Graz University in Austria. At a panel on “user-oriented approaches,” James reported on his encoding and design work for the Swift Poems Project. With faculty collaborators James Woolley, Frank Lee and Edna M. Smith Professor of English at Lafayette College, and Stephen Karian, faculty at the University of Missouri, James develops web service infrastructure supporting an ambitious digital humanities initiative to transcribe, collate, and encode a publicly accessible digital archive of the verse canon of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Paul Miller, Visual Resources Curator jointly appointed in Digital Scholarship Services and Fine Arts, has also significantly contributed to the project with metadata and database expertise. The Swift Poems Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and will serve as a digital companion piece to the forthcoming print edition of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift.
In collaboration with Dr. Woolley, James Griffin is currently developing an API (application programming interface) to collate and automate the encoding of variant poem texts according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines. Text encoding is a process of structured editorial mark-up that allows scholars to create machine-readable digital editions of texts. Digital editions can be searched, queried, and interpreted based on the information the encoding scholar has embedded in the text. In addition to his efforts developing a responsive UI (user interface) for the Swift Poems Project, James’s work connecting the project to the TEI community raises the profile and enhances the utility of the project for literary scholars and digital humanities practitioners.
To learn more about what was covered at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conferences, check out the conference Twitter hashtag: #DSEasInterfaces.
Postdoc Michaela Kelly Attends the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) Conference in Bucharest
Michaela Kelly, the 2016-2017 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the Skillman Library, was in Bucharest, Romania from September 14-17, 2016, to present the EAIC at the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS). Drawing together librarians and scholars from Europe, Japan and North America, the EAJRS conference hosted 34 presentations and one resource provider workshop. The four day conference was held in the beautiful Carol I Central University Library at the University of Bucharest.
Michaela’s presentation, ‘Building an archive of Japanese images at Lafayette College and creating international partnerships with others,’ offered an introduction to the physical collection held at Lafayette College Special Collections, and the digital East Asia Images Collection (EAIC), supported by Lafayette College Digital Scholarship Services (DSS), that corresponds to it. Michaela discussed the digitization process, the metadata schema used for images, and the benefits of collaboration with the Kyoto University (CIAS and Dr. Toshihiko Kishi) postcard collection and others. Audience interest centered on the OCM metadata tags and image formats. Michaela received a comment by an audience member who regularly uses the East Asia Images Collection for scholarly projects and wanted to echo its importance to the rest of the audience.
Other topics covered at the conference included the international exchange of librarians between institutions, virtual archives used by scholars, and specific resource introductions: HathiTrust, the National Diet Library Digital Collections, JACAR, Rekihaku’s Metaresource, and a host of others. There was also a roundtable presentation led by Akio Yasue on the conservation and preservation of Japanese library materials in Europe.
The EAJRS and University of Bucharest hosts began the conference by spotlighting their University of Bucharest undergraduate Japanese singing group and offered the opportunity to visit a kuchie print exhibit, curated by Ioan Colta of the Romanian Complexul Muzeal Arad, and a showing of ukiyoe prints at the Romanian Academy Library. The 80+ conference participants also attended at dinner gathering at a traditional Romanian restaurant where regional dance and music was on display.
Under the leadership of Sarah Morris, Research and Instruction Librarian at the Skillman Library, the 2016 Lafayette College Digital Humanities Summer Scholars undertook independent research projects on such topics as Iranian statecraft, Soviet monument culture in Bulgaria, the misunderstood Moog synthesizer, and histories of Indian Ocean trade and migration.
On Wednesday, five Summer Scholars presented their projects to a packed audience in the Gendebien Room. In order to pursue their interdisciplinary research questions, students in the program used a variety of tools, platforms, and methods. In most cases, students combined digital approaches so as to take advantage of unique capabilities. For instance, Tawfiq Alhamedi used Omeka’s Neatline plug-in along with ArcGIS to reproduce the orientation of medieval Indian Ocean cartography in his project’s interactive map. Other projects incorporated Scalar, Cytoscape, and TimelineJS, among other tools and platforms.
Tawfiq reflects, “the Digital Humanities Summer Scholarship was a unique and valuable experience for me to explore new methodologies that truly brought my research to life. Working in a creative and supportive environment helped nourish my project from being an abstract idea to becoming a useful digital resource open to anyone interested in my topic.” DH Summer Scholar Caroline Nawrocki agrees about the distinctive value of the program: “it was an incredibly unique learning experience. It was a constant process of developing knowledge on digital tools, my specific topic, and what it means to be a researcher without being concerned about a grade or with failure.”
Dr. Paul Barclay, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s event, also points out the value of the program in terms of its emphasis on experimentation in undergraduate research: “the program shows the value of letting students explore data, its visualization, and computational methods for humanities research in an independent research setting.”
Check out all of the DH Summer Scholar Projects at the project website! To learn about Lafayette’s brand new Digital Humanities Club, please contact President Tawfiq Alhamedi (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vice-President John Gossick (email@example.com).
The Easton Library Company project began as an archival project with Associate Professor of English Chris Phillips’ discovery of a set of 18th century library ledgers at the Easton Area Public Library. The ledgers held the detailed records of the patrons of the Easton Library Company, the town’s original subscription library, and presented a bevvy of data regarding the reading habits, community relationships, and family structures of Easton society. Yet this information was contained in fragile, aging ledger books accessible only to local residents.
Phillips, in collaboration with Digital Scholarship Services, began the enormous task of digitizing and transcribing these records with the help of a team of Excel Scholars: Gavin Jones ’14, Elena Principato ’15, Julia Campbell ’15, Cat Miller ’16, Eric Bockol ’16, Venita O’Hanlon ’16, and Sean Cavanagh ’16. Their hard work in deciphering 18th century librarian short hand and in researching local history forms the backbone of this project.
The long hours of work and analysis has now culminated in the launch of the Easton Library Company Database. Users can now browse through the ledgers digitized in high-resolution images and explore the reading habits of some of Easton’s most influential residents. The page images are linked to transcriptions that users can read alongside of the original page views.
The information collected from these transcriptions forms the basis for the database. Visitors can also sort the contents of the database through a number of facets including book title, author name, and borrower name allowing a user to see who see who read a particular book, or all the books a particular person read. These same facets can be used to create visualizations of the data that reveal the patterns of reading and lending, and eventually the connections between community members. As more information is added to the database these visualizations will give users a glimpse into the social fabric of early Easton.
To create these tools and visualizations, DSS has made major improvements to the methods for entering new information into the database. Streamlining and refining the entry forms allows for easier data collection, and most importantly, they help to ensure the accuracy and standardization of new information, which then provides for better search results for the user.
The Easton Library Company Database is continually evolving and new data and new features will continue to be added to site alongside of new research and information about the collection as it becomes available.
Explore the project at elc.lafayette.edu.
For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org , or call (610) 330-5796.
Associate Professor and Chair of Africana Studies, Wendy Wilson-Fall’s latest book Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic has just been released from the University of Ohio Press.
The book takes an interdisciplinary approach in examining family narratives in which descendants describe their Malagasy lineage as part of their identity. The focus is not only on the narrative itself as text, but on the ways that Malagasy ancestry is remembered in contrast to other forgotten or less visible stories of African descent. Narratives are also contrasted with archival materials, providing historical context and at times, historical evidence. For descendants of slaves, given the fracturing of family networks under the conditions of slavery and the erasure of nation, language, and culture that occurred during enslavement, these stories often only remain in fragments, whispers of an ancestor from Madagascar, or a brief mention of heritage or descent in a document. The research also explores the stories of non-slave Malagasy immigrants of the early to mid-nineteenth century, especially sailors and merchants.
In conjunction with the release of this new title, DSS is proud to announce the Mapping Memories of Madagascar digital project. Through this crowd-sourcing project, visitors can use the interactive map to explore the stories told in the book and trace the history of Malagasy presence in the United States in the slavery era.
We invite users to submit their own story for future inclusion on the interactive map. Participants may be descendants of slaves, slave owners, merchants or others such as members of former Yankee sailor families who have ties to the western Indian Ocean. All of these contributors are welcome as the goal of the project is to identify the potential connections between these communities and retrace the steps of an often forgotten history. Even these small fragments can add up to new information and insight.
Professor Wilson Fall’s work in this area of study is ongoing. Her most recent developments have come from her work with Excel student Clara Randimbiarimanana, ’18 that follows the copal trade, a commodity closely linked to Madagascar, and the pepper trade. Investigating these trade routes has led to new information connections that adds new family connections to a growing network. We look forward to watching this project grow organically through user contributions that will, in turn, open new research questions and uncover new histories.
Explore the project at http://digital.lafayette.edu/collections/madagascar
History Professor Paul Barclay and Director of Digital Scholarship Services Eric Luhrs were invited to participate in a workshop on “Advancing Digital Scholarship in Japanese Studies” at the prestigious Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. Their flagship digital project, the East Asia Image Collection, served as a catalyst for discussion and as an inspiration for new digital scholarship in the field.
The impetus for the invitation was Harvard Yenching Library’s newly acquired collection of ephemera, books, and manuscripts for Japanese-governed Manchukuo (“Manchuria”). Manchukuo, a region that consisted of China’s three northeastern provinces, existed as a state from 1932-1945 and was considered the jewel in the crown of Japanese empire. The new collection includes over 2000 items, including hundreds of postcards, board games, propaganda posters, scrapbooks, and hundreds of rare books. Barclay and Luhrs were asked to help survey the materials due to their expertise with similar materials in the EAIC.
Their ten years of experience in collecting, cataloging, and building the East Asia Image Collection, an open access archive of almost 6000 postcards and historical ephemera from the Japanese Empire, have made Luhrs and Barclay a valuable resource in this scholarly arena. In the course of the project they have encountered and overcome numerous complexities in terms of digitization, representation, and managing long-term access and preservation of the digital surrogates. They are well positioned to help others negotiate these hurdles and, more importantly, create the foundations not only to build new archives and collections, but also to connect these collections across institutions.
Over the course of two days, Barclay and Luhrs met both with scholars of Japanese Studies and experts in digital scholarship to discuss best practices and strategies in creating digital scholarship projects.
During their presentation, “Growing the East Asia Image Collection over a Decade,” Director Luhrs presented on the technical, conceptual, institutional, and administrative aspects of building a world-class digital archive. Barclay explained how the EAIC has drawn volunteers, students, collaborators, and donors into the project over the years. Barclay focused on three ongoing projects in international collaboration: the Lafayette-Showa Memorial Museum (Tokyo) project to digitize, transcribe, translate, and publish postcard-letters from Japanese families to soldiers in the Philippine Islands in 1945 and 1945; a joint venture between Lafayette and the Puli Municipal Museum in Taiwan to build a digital archive for the Taroko-Japanese War of 1914, and a partnership between Kyoto University and Lafayette College to link digital archives across the Pacific Ocean.
Their second session, “From Shoebox to Online Showcase: How to build a Digital Image Collection” included fellow researchers Ted Bestor, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Harvard’s Reischauer Institute, and Kuniko McVey, Librarian of Japanese Language Materials at Yenching. Using Harvard’s new Manchukuo collection as a focus, this session was a round-table discussion of how scholars should (and shouldn’t) build digital research collections.
Finally, for the conference’s round-up session, Barclay and Luhrs moderated a discussion among thirty scholars, librarians, and technologists about the future of digital scholarship, copyright issues, and best teaching practices.
The focused nature of the conference provided the opportunity for like-minded scholars from a number of prestigious universities and institutions to share resources and solutions. Having the best and brightest of the field assembled in the same location created a unique space for a rich and productive exchange of ideas.
Barclay and Luhrs will return to Harvard in May to continue the conversation. The spring session will have a more specific focus on Harvard’s new Manchuria materials and will work to bring together the strengths of scholars and library scientists from multiple institutions in the development of a new research collection.
This weekend five Lafayette students presented their work at Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Conference, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship.” The main focus of the conference was on building new ways to connect Digital Humanities and Digital Scholarship with the student experience and on developing new frameworks for including students as meaningful collaborators on digital projects. While many of the presenters focused on students as researchers or contributors to larger projects, our students presented work of their own design.
Feevan Megersa ’17, Ian Morse ’17, and Jethro Israel ’16 presented their work on a panel “Models of Student Engagement in DH” alongside of the Library’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities Emily McGinn. Feevan presented her project “Got Folktales?” an interactive project that maps the themes and morals of a collection of Ethiopian folktales, and Ian presented work from his Solution Based Press Freedom Project. Both projects were developed as part of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program. The internship was sponsored by Skillman Library and supported with funding from the Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Grant for Digital Initiatives.
Jethro discussed his history with the McDonogh Project, a digital project that tells the story of Washington Watts McDonogh and David Kinney McDonogh, two emancipated slaves who were educated at Lafayette in the 1830s. Jethro described his trajectory as he moved from a student working on a class project, to an EXCEL scholar creating and managing the data behind the digital exhibit, to developing his own research interests in relation to the larger project.
Vincent DeMarco ’18 and Ben Draves ’17 were a part of their own separate panel where they presented their project Tempo of the Times, a data analysis project also developed in the Summer Scholars program that examines key features of popular music including polarity, “hotness” and danceability against economic data over time. They were also asked to present their work during the poster session during which they were able to do live demos of their interactive graphs and predictive models that anticipate future trends in music.
Ian Morse was also given a second opportunity to present his work at the conference. He was selected as part of the NextGen Plenary session in which a panel of five early career scholars presented their work to the entire body of conference goers. Ian presented his project that used large scale text analysis to investigate press freedom violations surrounding Turkey’s Gezi Park protests. His work dovetailed perfectly with keynote speaker Micki Kaufman’s methods on text analysis on Henry Kissinger’s correspondence.
Lafayette College was well represented with one of the largest contingents of students, all of whom had produced exceptional work that set the standard for undergraduate research in the digital humanities. They showed a professionalism and dedication to their work that stands as a testament to the culture of research and intellectual curiosity at Lafayette. During the course of the conference, all of our students became valuable resources for their peers as well as to faculty and administrators hoping to replicate their same success at other institutions.
To continue to build a community of practitioners and collaborators here at Lafayette, we will be holding a general interest session Wednesday December 2 in the tech lounge (Pardee 28) from 3-5. Our students will be available to talk more about their projects and are hoping to find students interested in starting their own digital projects and collaborating with them in the future. Drop in anytime between three and five.
For more information contact Sarah Morris, Research and Instruction Librarian at email@example.com.
Lafayette College seeks a talented and engaged web programmer to join the Library’s Digital Scholarship Services department. Do you love libraries? Are you passionate about software development? Are you excited by the prospect of designing innovative, elegant interfaces?
The person selected for this position will lead design and web programming efforts for Lafayette Library’s digital repository ecosystem. We value and support involvement with digital library development communities and encourage close collaboration locally and across institutions. We seek someone who enjoys autonomy and also thrives as an integral part of a dynamic team that is committed to furthering digital research and scholarship. We invite applications from those who share our perspective, particularly women and people from other under-represented groups.
- Experience (or strong interest) in agile software development using modern tools for issue tracking, project management, and source control
- Computer Science degree
- Experience with UX design
- Familiarity with digital repository frameworks such as Fedora, Hydra, or Islandora
- Experience with library-specific technologies such as Omeka and Neatline.
If this ad describes you, please send a resume and cover letter explaining your interest and what you can offer our growing development team to: Neil McElroy, Dean of Libraries, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042 or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Digital Humanities Steering Committee is pleased to announce its latest call for proposals.
This semester we’re offering three options. First, we will support professional development related to digital humanities. This support includes travel to conferences or workshops, as well as trips to archives or digital centers in support of digital research projects. We are also happy to support those looking to acquire new skills in the digital humanities and will fund trips to intensive workshops like DHSi and HILT or fees for online courses. Open Call
Second we are continuing our DH in the Classroom program this term. We are offering a $2000 stipend to any instructor who would like to add a digital assignment or project to their class. Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) will help you structure the assignment, identify the most useful methods or tools for achieving your objectives and provide any in class training or workshops you may need for your students. Previous projects have included online exhibits of religious iconography, digital publishing, statistical analysis of text, and the creation of interactive timelines and maps from archival material. Read more about some of these projects in our previous post. Due Nov. 20
Finally we’re offering a new option DH Collaboration Across the Curriculum. Similar to the DH in the Classroom grant, this version seeks instructors who are willing to pair their classes across disciplines. This collaboration could mean using a large set of data that one class visualizes in graphs and tables while the other class provides historical or analytical context. It could also mean identifying a large research question that two classes can approach from different angles. Using a client based approach, both classes could identify a need for a particular product, service, or solution. One class could work on developing a prototype while the other works on market research or historical analysis of the need for this new service or product. We are looking for collaboration broadly defined but one in which both classes benefit from the insights, knowledge, and perspective of the other. Grants of $2000 per instructor will be awarded and DSS will provide guidance and support in the creation of this collaboration. Due Nov. 20
Please contact Emily McGinn, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (email@example.com) for consultation before submitting a proposal. To apply for any of these grants, please fill out our online form.