Session Information

AHA Session 56
Friday, January 8, 2016
8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Regency Ballroom VI (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Lower Level 1)

This lightning round invites historians working on digital projects to share their work in a series of three-minute presentations. Digital technologies have expanded the reach of scholarship in the way scholars communicate their research to an audience and present findings, as well as influenced the questions they ask in planning a research project. Text analysis, text mining, mapping, data visualization, and a variety of other digital methods and tools make forms of research beyond the traditional text-based article or monograph possible, while also encouraging scholars to consider issues of information storage, visual presentation, and user engagement. With space for approximately 20 participants, this session is an excellent opportunity for scholars to get feedback on projects at any stage of development, hear about other types of projects and methods, and network with fellow digital historians.



At the 2016 annual meeting, we will have a fantastic group of presenters at our Digital Projects Lightning Round. Participants will speak for three minutes each on the digital projects they are working on. We have included their abstracts and links to the projects themselves in this guide as examples of the wide range of methodologies, time periods, and geographical regions digital history can encompass.


To Build a “New Scotland”: Emigration in the Era of the American Revolution

Jim Ambuske (University of Virginia)

This project is a component of my dissertation that uses Neatline to reconstruct Scottish Emigration to North America in the era of the American Revolution. In the 1760s and 1770s, thousands of Scots resettled in the American colonies. By aggregating information derived from historical sources such as ship manifests, customs records, newspapers, private correspondence, and maps into Neatline’s geo-spatial platform, my goal is to produce a series of visualizations that recreates how British officials evaluated emigration from Scotland in this period, and the potential consequences they believed it held for the future of British America.

Deep Data: Mapping Foodways in a North American Diasporic City

Camille Bégin (Concordia University) @_camille_begin

Our project maps the development of Chinese ethnic malls in suburban Toronto over the past 30 years. Our aim is to map the very tangible ways in which intangible heritages, such as food practices and sensory landscapes, have shaped North American cities. Our question then is: How can “Big Data” also provide and make visible “Deep Data,” layers of multisensory knowledge and culinary infrastructures networked through urban environments?

Mobile Academic Research Application

Julian C. Chambliss (Rollins College) @JulianChambliss

MARA (Mobile Academic Research Application) is a mobile app that allows users to collect and store media along with relevant metadata on a mobile device. MARA offers a powerful tool for field research. Whether working with students or alone, MARA allows the user to collect, describe, and store media while automatically attaching geo-location information to all material. Once collected, the saved media along with its metadata can be uploaded to a designated website at the click of a button.

Grapes of Math: Visualizing Data on Women’s Vineyards in 19th Century California

Bethany Hopkins (UC Davis) @bethanyjhopkins

This project uses GIS mapping and data visualizations to examine the expansion of woman-run California vineyards in the 1880s-1890s. In collaboration with UC Davis geographer Amber Manfree, I use maps to reveal how female farmers thrived in northern and central counties but not in southern ones and suggest reasons why. I also use visual data to illustrate how the small size of women’s farms correlated with farm failure. Both methods reveal useful digital analysis tools for women’s historians.

Modeling Medieval Material Culture: Using Photogrammetry to Shed Light on “Dark Age” Death Rituals

Austin Mason (Carleton College) @meDHieval

This project uses photogrammetry to investigate the symbolism of Anglo-Saxon cremation urns and circular bronze brooches in order to explore the potential role of early medieval women in death rituals and memory curation. I will briefly describe the techniques and software used to photograph and model artifacts in 3D and discuss how analytical tools like feature extraction can compare the decoration of disparate object types. I hope to generate discussion about the benefits and limitations of photogrammetry for historical research.

OpenTourBuilder: The Battle of Atlanta

Sarah Melton (Emory University Center for Digital Scholarship) @svmelton

OpenTourBuilder is a platform for building tours to be presented as mobile optimized websites. This presentation will showcase the Battle of Atlanta tour, built by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship.

The Battle of Atlanta figured prominently in the Union’s conquest of the Confederacy in the final year of the Civil War and in Abraham Lincoln’s re-election to the presidency. This application combines a narrative of events, maps, video clips, and images into a handheld resource of 12 tour stops.

SS, Slave Labor and Messerschmitt Production

Jan-Ruth Mills (Florida State University)

I analyze Messerschmitt 262 production and slave labor in Austria using Palantir to reveal previously unknown social and causal relationships between armament production and the Holocaust. My method will employ Palantir’s analysis capabilities to search for previously unidentified linkages between taped and filmed survivor testimony, documents, photographs, spread sheets, film clips, Geographic Information System (GIS) maps, diagrams, technical drawings and manuals, trial transcripts, and letters.

Mapping American Religion

Lincoln Mullen (George Mason University) @lincolnmullen

Most maps of American religion rely on the very few federal censuses of religion. For the most part, those maps are county-level aggregates. However, many denominations kept detailed records of the number of members or communicants, where their congregations were located, the routes their ministers traveled, and other statistics such as the number of infant and adult baptisms. I’ll show the very beginning stages of a project to identify those denominational statistics, digitize or transcribe them, then map and analyze them.

Mapping Occupation

Scott Nesbit (University of Georgia) @csnesbit

Mapping Occupation, directed by Gregory P. Downs and Scott Nesbit, reorients our understanding of the Reconstruction that followed Confederate surrender by presenting the first-ever thorough dataset of the Army’s presence in the American South. It argues that U.S. power existed where the government could enforce its laws through the Army. The project includes both a spatial narrative and an exploratory component, allowing scholars, students, and interested publics to see a key dynamic of Reconstruction for the first time.


Lauren Tilton (Yale Univ.) @nolauren

Photogrammar is a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).

NEH Support for Digital History Projects: What’s Available in 2016?

Jennifer Serventi (National Endowment for the Humanities) @JenServenti

In this presentation, Jennifer Serventi from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities will provide a brief overview of the range of opportunities available throughout the Endowment for historians using digital methods, tools, and approaches to advance scholarship and teaching and engage public audiences. She will highlight some past NEH awards and discuss new initiatives. And finally she will give an extremely quick tour of the NEH website to show where to find resources about our grant programs and professional development opportunities for digital history.

Spaces to Socialize and Protest: Making la Raza en la Mision

Lindsey Passenger Wieck (University of Notre Dame) @lwieck

Using ten years of El Tecolote, a San Francisco Mission District bilingual neighborhood newspaper, I created a data set that includes all places mentioned in the newspaper and the context in which they were mentioned. I made GIS maps using this data to examine the community orientation of the newspaper. I use the maps to ask questions about how El Tecolote journalists used the newspaper to mobilize residents in the neighborhood to encourage the formation of Latino community.

Humanities Data in R

Lauren Tilton (Yale University) @nolauren

Humanities Data in R: A textbook and digital resource for exploring networks, geospatial data, images, and text using the popular open-source programming language R. Springer 2015.


Catherine Nicole Coleman (Stanford) @cncoleman and @hdstanford

Breve gives you a quick visual overview of a data table, showing empty cells and color by data type. Drop a csv file (or copy and paste from Excel) into Breve to see a map of your data, edit values and save. Please try it out and help us make it better with your feedback via twitter or email: