Digital technologies have expanded the reach of scholarship in the way historians communicate their research to an audience and present findings, as well as influenced the questions they ask. Text analysis, text mining, mapping, data visualization, and 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.

This lightning round invites historians working on digital projects to share their work in a series of three-minute presentations. 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. We are now accepting abstracts from those looking to participate. To submit an abstract, e-mail Elyse Martin at with the subject “Digital Projects Lightning Round Submission.” Please include an 80-word abstract and the title of your project.


Session Information

AHA Session 264

Date: Sunday, January 6, 2019
Time: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Location: Continental B (Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level)
Chair: Elyse Martin, American Historical Association




The Ornament of Empire: Visualizing Ecological Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century America

Camden Burd (University of Rochester)

The Ornament of Empire explores the economic and ecological significance of plant nurserymen during the nineteenth century. Nurserymen, in the age of empire, enabled to American settlement by replicating agricultural systems across the continent. Using nineteenth-century nursery catalogues, business ledgers, and correspondence between nurserymen, the project maps networks of trade as and the physical movement of plants across the continent. The project integrates big-data management, GIS mapping, and data visualizations to track the economic and ecological impact of nurserymen in the nineteenth century.

Visualizing a Campaign That Failed: U.S. Casualties in the Second Seminole War, a.k.a. the Florida War, 1835-42

Scot French (University of Central Florida)

In 1842 the U.S. government – eager to end its disastrous seven-year war with the Seminoles of Florida – held a ceremony in St. Augustine to re-inter the unidentified remains of 1468 soldiers and to declare the war over. Today, drawing upon detailed enlistment and casualty records, UCF’s Seminole War Research Team is creating a vivid demographic portrait of those who died – many of battle wounds, most of disease. The project employs data visualization and story-mapping tools to reexamine this oft-forgotten war.

READ: Automated Recognition of Handwritten Documents

Tobias Hodel (University of Zurich)

Archives, libraries and universities are currently investing in the digitization of their collections. Despite the digital images, analysis of the material is still time consuming in order to make the texts (machine-)readable. The rationale behind the READ project, which aims to revolutionize access to historical collections, is to use computers to process images as text and make searching within documents possible. This cutting-edge research in automatic text recognition is made available in the Transkribus ( research platform.

Digital Manchu Studies

Yong Liang (University of Tuebingen)

Digital Manchu Studies aims to provide Manchu-language sources and interdisciplinary research methods for advocating scholars from different academic disciplines to realize one vision: building Manchu Studies as science to integrate history, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and anthropology, etc., into one domain. Manchu Studies is a crucial subject due to its historical significance of Manchu governance over China Proper and the vast ethnic frontiers of Manchu governance over China Proper and the vast ethnic frontiers of northeast, central, south and southeast Asia. To pursue Manchu Studies, one needs to learn Manchu as an endangered language, to know who the Manchu are and who they were, and to read Manchu documents for different research purposes. Manchu Studies takes root in history, and grows stronger in the digital age.

Geographies of Violence in Northern Italy, 1400-1700

Amanda G. Madden (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Geographies of Violence in Northern Italy uses GIS to identify long-term trends in violence between 1400 and 1700 in Bologna, Modena, Venice. Preliminary research found an increase in interpersonal violence in Italy over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries–a finding which contradicts previously identified patterns. After extracting data from chronicles, correspondence, court trials, and census data, the project will code and map the data to better understand why and how northern Italian patterns differ. The outcome of this project will be a collaborative, searchable database facilitating comparative studies of violence in early modern Italy and Europe.

Authorship in Modern American Textbooks (AMAT)

Jordan M. Reed (Drew University)

The AMAT project is a multi-phase digital humanities book history project aimed at identifying and analyzing trends in authorship of American textbooks. Ultimately, the project will encompass internal (style, themes, presentation) and external (biographical information, correspondence, publishing information, etc.) evidence to analyze and map the authorship of the modern American textbook. The first phase of this project will examine textual content using advanced optical character recognition (OCR) software, natural language processing software, and topic modeling to analyze the textbooks of Thomas A. Bailey, who claimed to write more engaging textbook prose.

NEH Support for Digital History Projects: What’s New for 2019 and Beyond?

Jennifer Serventi (NEH Office of Digital Humanities)

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

Kagawa Toyohiko: The Making of a Global Christian Pacifist

Bo Tao (Yale University)

Throughout his career as a Christian evangelist and social reformer, Kagawa Toyohiko (1888-1960) traveled across Japan and beyond, preaching the gospel and working to realize his dream of world peace through economic cooperation. Kagawa acquired international renown as a Christian pacifist leader during his journey—thanks in no small part to his close association and collaboration with American Protestant missionaries who helped to circulate his writings and organize overseas lecture tours on his behalf. This digital project integrates GIS data with photographic archival images to reconstruct one such tour that played a major role in shaping his image as a global Christian pacifist: his 1935-36 tour of the United States.

Northwest Stories: Undergraduate DH in the Short Term

Robert Voss (Northwest Missouri State University)

Northwest Stories generated from an undergraduate Digital Humanities class. Inspired by Curatescape and similar projects, Northwest Stories collects the history of our small university. It was built in 8 weeks by a group of 6 undergraduates using Omeka S with the plan to expand the project to Missouri Stories, encompassing short histories of the entire state based on location. A companion GIS app created by undergraduates is forthcoming in the spring.