AHA15 Digital Projects Lightning Round

At the 2015 annual meeting, we had a fantastic group of presenters at our Digital Projects Lightning Round, which was held Saturday, January 3, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., in the Sheraton New York. Participants spoke for five minutes each on the digital projects they were 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. We will be adding future lightning round participants to the archive; check out current participants for the 2016 lightning round, and if you're doing digital work yourself submit an abstract and join us!

The Comédie-Française Registers Project

Jeffrey S. Ravel (Massachussetts Institute of Technology)

The Comédie-Française Registers Project (CFRP) is a database and data visualization project that seeks to make accessible information about nightly ticket sales at the Comédie-Française theater in Paris from 1680 to 1793. The database is built on archival records of the period that provide detailed information on ticket sales in all categories for over 34,000 performances during this 113-year period. The CFRP is a joint venture of MIT, the Comédie-Française, the Sorbonne, Harvard University, and the University of Paris-Nanterre.

Medieval England Goes to War, 1344-1347

Daniel Franke (West Point) @danfranke79

This project's goal is to present an interactive geo-spatial and network analysis of the archival data for Edward III's war against France and Scotland. It asks several questions about the process of war in the Middle Ages. How were different groups affected by mobilization? What kinds of networks were used to raise troops and influence opinion? Where do different aspects of war overlap geospatially? The deployable version will see chronological data sets layered over England's terrain. 

Virtual Plasencia: a Geovisual Recreation of the Medieval City of Plasencia, Spain

Roger L. Martinez (University of Colorado) @rogerlmartinez

Telling the story of the city of Plasencia, Spain, especially during the fifteenth century (1400s c.e.) is particularly important due to the religious intermixing of Jews, Catholics, and Muslims during this age of increasing religious intolerance. Not only does this history reveal moments of conflict and cooperation between the different religious groups, but it also details how some Jewish and Christian communities aligned their interests at the expense of other Christians. Similarly, the details of medieval life are exposed, such as how "physical ownership" of homes was ritually established, what the role of Jewish converts to Christianity (conversos) was in the formation of the Catholic Church, how the production and sale of wine defined elements of the community, and lastly, in what manner did the medieval social class of knights distribute their wealth to their heirs.

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: Reconstructing the Social Network of Early Modern Britain

Jessica Marie Otis (Carnegie Mellon University) @jotis13 @6Bacon

The Six Degrees of Francis Bacon project attempts to reconstruct the social network of early modern Britain through a combination of statistical analysis and crowd-sourcing. In the first stage of our project, we statistically analyzed the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to infer relationships in a network of over 13,000 early modern figures. In the second stage of our project, we are opening the network to crowd-sourcing and the incorporation of additional datasets to validate and expand the network.

Memories/Motifs: Approaching Early Holocaust Memory Online

Rachel Deblinger (CLIR) @RachelDeblinger

Memories/Motifs is an online exhibit that traces the stories of three Holocaust survivors in the immediate postwar period. The exhibit uses SCALAR to showcase the variety of materials employed by Jewish communal groups and considers how American Jews first learned about the Holocaust after the war. Through hyperlinked text and multi-media materials, Memories/Motifs connects postwar Holocaust narratives with contemporary testimony collections and builds a network of meaning that extends and enriches our understanding of how Holocaust memory has been constructed in America. 

Consuming America: Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference Cultures

Melvin Wevers (Utrecht University) @melvinwevers

My project uses several digital humanities techniques to analyze the role of the United States as a reference culture within Dutch consumer society throughout the twentieth century. I will briefly describe how I use n-gram analysis, topic modeling, named entity recognition, and concept mining to map trends and changes in the ways in which the United States has been referenced and evaluated within the digitized Dutch newspaper archive of the National Library of the Netherlands.

The Geography of the Post

Cameron Blevins (Stanford University) @historying

I will be showcasing an online visualization that maps the the opening and closing of more than 14,000 post offices in the American West during the late nineteenth century. The visualization was built at Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and is part of a larger project to study the geography of Western development through the lens of communication networks.

This Place Matters: Using Clio to Share the History and Culture that Surrounds You

David J. Trowbridge (Marshall University)

Clio is a website and mobile application that picks up a user's location anywhere in the United States and guides them to museums, monuments, and other historic sites. Clio is supported by a nonprofit education foundation that oversees its growing database of entries, each of which is published under a Creative Commons license. Clio is available on any web browser or as a free mobile application ("app") in iTunes and Google Play. Marshall University recently created this video introduction to Clio, highlighting its capacity to connect users to primary sources in archives.

The Pox Hunter: Developing a Game Worth Playing

Lisa Rosner (Richard Stockton College of New Jersey) @burkeandhare

In the analog age, there was Television Worth Watching; now there are Games Worth Playing. I will present a lightning-fast description of The Pox Hunter: A 3D Strategy Game for the History of Medicine, just awarded funding from the NEH's Digital Projects for the Public initiative. I will provide some useful suggestions for historians interested in seeking funding for this type of digital humanities project, and I hope to generate discussion on the role of humanities games in public outreach.

Developing Ruby Programming Simulations for History and Using R for Visualization

Mark Ciotola (Singularity University)

An introduction to the Ruby programming language and its ease of use and suitability for historical simulations and porting them to the web. Use of the free R programming language to generate graphs, charts and simulations. More at historydynamics.org and historyquant.com.

Chapman ePortfolios: a Digital Dossier Platform for Faculty Tenure & Promotion Evaluation

Jana Remy (Chapman University) @janaremy http://janaremy.com

Digital projects can now count towards earning tenure like print publications, yet most institutions evaluate tenure in paper where digital works cannot be adequately rendered or navigated. Consequently, there is a need for an online evaluation platform where the depth and innovation of digital work can be presented. Chapman ePortfolios, a web-based platform built with WordPress, allows candidates to embed and/or link to their multimodal work, in addition to attaching or linking to digital copies of their print publications.

NEH Support for Digital History Projects: What's Available?

Jennifer Serventi (National Endowment for the Humanities) @JenServenti

In the session, I 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. I will highlight some past NEH awards. And finally I 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.


Presented by Lauren Tilton @nolauren on behalf of her team: @statsmath @mapninja @triplingual and Laura Wexler (Yale University)

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).