Skill 8: Portfolio and Reflection

I will say that it is no secret I took this course because it fits the mandatory IT requirement. I was very worried about this class, what it entailed and how I was going to do, but I was presently surprised. By no means will I be using coding language R or creating another database for anything ever again, but I enjoyed getting the skill right and relating the digital to history. We had 8 skill assignments each relating to a different part of the progressive era and using a different tool. I will go over each skill on its own with the link in the title and share its description and my thoughts.

Skill 1: Omeka Metadata

This skill assignment was to pick a topic discussed in class, nickelodeons, women’s suffrage, workers rights. One that was narrow enough to use for the second skill. We had to gather 5 photos or newspapers and give descriptions of the images. It was also important to cite and date the images. This was a good assignment to introduce history to the digital world.

Skill 2: Omeka Exhibit

This next skill was more intensive. Using the items from Skill 1, you created an exhibit. Almost like an off-brand museum website exhibit. Using the images to great a narrative or a picture of the time. It was also important to do the 5 W’s who, what, when where and why. Answering the 5 W’s and creating a narrative to flow was important to create a customizable space and create an ideology of the things a digital historian can do.

Skill 3: TimeLine

I did not like this skill at all, it did not seem necessary to the curriculum as it was basically creating another exhibit. Only with this skill, you could use multiple topics of the progressive era such as women’s suffrage, World War I, workers protests, and immigration. Also, 20 images seemed excessive, maybe 10-15, but 20 was a bit overkill, it was at least a bonus that you could use all sorts of images from the progressive era. The only thing I think that this skill did was show a different way and a different tool to create an exhibit. It is definitely ranked at the bottom of my list. It also for some reason would not date right.

Skill 4: Database and Blog Post

This skill was when things started looking up. I actually enjoyed it especially when the requirement of 20 sources was subtracted down to 10 sources. The assignment was to pick a topic on the progressive era mainly women’s suffrage if I recall correctly and pick an idea. Such as their demonstrations, outfits, predominant influencers, and the list goes on. Then, using the database tool called airtable, we would fill in the fields, create tables and correlate the topics that overlapped. With the database, it was easy to organize and structure information, as well as link it to separate tables making it easy to show lots of information and not just have everything on one long spreadsheet that is probably not as easily sorted into chronological or alphabetical order. Databases just make sorting and researching history easier and act as a great tool to use for many projects.

Skill 5: Mapping

This was also an interesting skill. Using the Motorist Green-Book you picked places and plotted them on a map. Then once all the points were plotted and labeled you could see proximities. It made sense that most places were clustered together making it so African-Americans would not have to venture far for entertainment or things they needed. The fact that the green-book can be mapped- even after decades- and can still demonstrate history in real time is amazing. It proved an interesting skill with limitless possibilities in varying fields.

Skill 6: Text Mining

I really liked this skill, if for nothing other than the wordmap I made. This skill was to demonstrate the relationship and relevance of words using a software tool that took text data and filltered to see how many time a word was said, if that one was related to another and inspected the grouping of words. It used multiple tools to show which words came up most and of course included stopwords that come up to much like “to, and from, but” and many more. This skill dispaled the usefulness of text mining. Say for a research study, dissertations, medical reports and many other sources of text to fully comprehend and understand information. It also, to me, is a prime example (more than other assignments) of creating and answering questions.

Skill 7: Visualization

I found this skill stressful for some reason but also fun. Inputting data from a census year into Plotly (the tool used) allowed to sort for historic demographic data and make inferences on what the data could imply. The visualization allowed for a discussion on different charts and graphs and put a greater visual on the historical trends and data, and what you learned about Immigration in the Progressive Era. I used an area plot graph to draw a visualization between immigrant men and women as well as native-born men and women.

Skill 8: Portfolio and Reflection (this post)

This skill might be my favorite because it is the easiest. All that was required was to reflect on your time in class, share your thoughts and lastly, link and describe previous skill assignments. I do know more than I did about technology since I have finished this course, and I have more knowledge about history in the Progressive Era. I do think I enjoyed the history aspect of this class more though!

Blog Post #8

I will say that the in-class video of Cathy O’Neil made the readings of Kieran Healy and Safiya Noble make much more sense. It was also great to see Safiya Noble’s video and accompanying her verbal articulation with the one that I read. From what I have gathered “big data” is the reliance, creation, and control over Algorithms. Algorithms are just past data and a definition of success. The best example that I can think of on my own is an algorithm in selecting a menu for a restaurant. If you use past data- those being past recipes or order receipts and then create a definition of success such as “using items that were most successful. Then Bam! Watch the algorithm work and your menu get created. The issue with that though is that it does not take into current trends, what if avocados are out and bananas are in? Or if the unicorn trend turns into the dragon trend? It also warrants they’re may not be vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free or nut-free options and that is an issue because a restaurant without some diversity is a no-no in this day and age.

The scholar’s readings and review of their topics in class talk about this type of algorithm set up on a greater scale. Instead of a restaurant menu, it’s a police radar algorithm causing more blacks to get arrested and jailed or an algorithm further assisting in progressing a sexist work environment. There are countless issues on relying on big data and algorithms. The main reason for that is because they are all based on the past. Algorithms merge past data with future ideologies of a “success”. This does not help if the past data is racist, sexist and overall closed minded then what change does that create? It doesn’t; it just forms a more reliable means of oppression. This digital redlining is more like a bright red flag and it is definitely the next the current civil rights issue of the 21st century! It may have been created to improve conditions but so was the cotton gin and that did not improve anything- it just made conditions worse.

Skill 7: Visualizations

I wanted to be different than the class example, so I chose the year 1900. First thing I notice is that there is a difference in how the census data was collected and shows up. The class 1890 data example had more specificity, so, instead of the detailed white-toned native v white-toned foreign it is just native versus foreign. More specifically it is shown in the codebook as Native-born – Male, Native-born – Female and Foreign-born – Male, Foreign-born – Female.

I chose to visualize the data using an area chart, to me, it was an easy demonstration of its data. Below is a screenshot of the area chart native-born versus foreign-born. Notice How overall no matter if you are a man or women there are more native-born than foreign-born. If you look closer, you can see that there are actually (overall across the board) more native and foreign-born women than men. I found this fascinating especially after the class discussion was mainly about the “alarming” amount of men was an overall theme and tool used to try and prevent immigration. It is also interesting that as the years went by it went from being picky about the type of foreign and native (like white/lighter skinned) to just noting who was an immigrant.

Native-Born versus Foreign-Born

The screenshots labeled below visualize native-born females versus foreign-born females and native-born versus foreign-born males respectively. I wanted to visualize just the males and females to breakdown the chart above and come up with new thoughts.

Native-Born versus Foreign-Born Female
Native-Born versus Foreign-Born Male

Based on all of the charts, it looks like North Carolina held a large population of people in general, leading to a large amount of both native and foreign-born people. In a less densely populated area such as the Arizona population, you see there is a low population of people and that there are equal amounts of native-born females and males, as well as foreign-born males and females. To look at an area with fluctuating demographics you can see Massachusetts Native born are far more than foreign-born males but the number of native-born males is about the same as foreign-born females!

I learned a lot about immigration in the Progressive Era, the laws passed and how today’s era is looking more and more like a Second Progressive Era. I do wonder if the high rate of women is due to the fact that they can register in the census without a man (as a miss) due to the rising requests of the women’s movement or if on the foreign-born side if the United States takes in more women than men when meeting their quotas. It is a shock to see a large number of women. Especially, as stated before, due to the “alarm of men coming and stealing jobs” that is published when discussing immigration. After thinking about the reasons why I just decided to show it in an area chart showing Foreign Born Male v Foreign Born Female pictured below.

It could be speculated that the quota changes allowed women more entry than men or since today it is scientifically proven women live longer than men maybe these are just the last census numbers but females live longer and that is why it is showing more females. This visualization creates so many possible questions and spurred on answer ideas. I overall learned that the Pogressive Era immigrations is the back story to todays current climate and that not much has changed.

Skill 6: Text Mining

Wordweb Screenshot

I found this text mining skill interesting. I always saw word webs like the one pictured above and wondered how many times specific words were used in an article or novel, but text mining puts a formula to work that answers those question. By imputing “The Women Citizen” distant reading files I was able to sort through important words, find correlation and add even more depth to the reading. I did have to add to my voyant tools stopwords as previously the word web also included: “women, woman, make, and long”. Though Mrs. seems like I should have made it a stopword; I kept it present in the photo above to represent how though there where some suffragist who were single and never been married most where wives. They kept their voices even though they were now Mrs. and maybe even demonstrated a point that you can – as the article put it- “keep your duty and place” by being wanton for a husband and perform duties as your own person at the same time.

Also, in the word web (also charted in the screenshots below) is that the word war appears a ton, 565 times to be exact. That is due to the fact that in this reading and in past discussions about women’s rights and suffrage was debated as the United States was entering world war 1. It was questioned whether or not women should back down and “pay some respect” to their country in this time of distress or fight the fact that democracy was not fully being practiced stateside. Women’s approach to reform to many approaches through articles such as the one for this assignment, to protests and rallies, to conventions and many acts of demonstrations. As you can see this article just doesn’t cover want for the creation of the 19th amendment, it discusses ways to improve the city and states, as well as how being a CITIZEN – not merely man or women- is important. The fact that this reading is named Women Citizen can be thought to highlight the importance of women places in the country and how our ‘place’ is broader than man thought.

Looking at the tool in the photo below it demonstrates correlations and significance of words broadening one’s ideas. This assignment was helpful to me in understanding the backgrounds of relating technology and tools to a concept. Skill 6 demonstrated the usefulness of IT to not only digital historians but to other fields. Thinking of using text mining in a research study, dissertations, medical reports and many other sources of text to fully comprehend and understand information. It also, to me, is a prime example (more than other assignments) of creating and answering questions.

Skill 5: Mapping

This screenshot shows my excel sheet for reference.

My map is based on locations in my home state: Virginia. When looking at the Negro Motorist Green-Book I chose a topic from areas that I knew well enough to spot if there was a geographical mistake. This resulted in me having two different cities to reach the requirement of 20 locations. The two locations I chose are Newport News and Norfolk, Virginia; since they are in relatively close proximity to one another.

As you can see in the screenshot below I was able to get both locations in one shot. You can also see that the services are in close proximity to one another. This is probably for a couple of reasons, the first being that a traveling black person would cause less attention to oneself if they only travel within a 1-2 block radius. As well as the fact that due to the inequalities of the town most black people were within a certain distance to oneself in the first place.

This shot demonstrates my locations relatively close distance.

The photos below are from Newport News, as you can see the locations are located on or around one central street: Marshall Ave. Within these streets, the mapping inequality relay demonstrates that the services are mostly in the red- marking it as a hazardous location. The farthest location is a beauty shop and it is in more of a yellow area. The mapping inequality shows how there was a growing population of blacks rising from 38% to 41% between the 1930s and 1940’s attributing to a greater red/hazardous area of housing. This inference goes along with our readings and class discussion on how spatial history and its mapping can add a layer to history and improve discussions among digital historians. Using the historical green-book to acknowledge the struggles and travels of blacks while then mapping the inequalities and danger on screen and in comparison.

Newport News Kepler Screenshot
Newport News mapping inequality screenshot

These next images are from Norfolk, Virginia and again demonstrate clustering of services along one road: Church St. While the African American population is lower than Newport News there is more land and yellow zones. The locations on the Kepler.gl map are mainly located in the yellow. Again better circumstances than Newport News but the standards are still set low as yellow is defined as “definitely declining”. There are two outliers away from Church St and located closer to the water they area hotel and beauty parlor.

Norfolk Kepler Image

Norfolk Mapping Inequality Image

The fact that the green-book can be mapped- even after decades- and can still demonstrate history in real time is amazing. Although I cannot think of any currently I can only imagine the answers an African-American Studies historian or Progressive area historian can get from this information. It can be used to highlight and discuss inequalities blacks faced in American history. It can also be used to draw comparisons; say a World War II historian wants to discuss the layouts of safe havens for the Jewish refugees escaping Germany they can compare resources and ideology with the Green-book and the service proximity. I really enjoyed the mapping of this assignment and found this to be a good hands on example of Richard White’s reading on spatial history.

Blog 7 Extra Credit

I like to think I am pretty secure in my digital footprint. I never write down my passcodes and keep my privacy option on. I also never link where I currently am and have a limited digital life. I now know that for an application like Facebook selecting ‘private account’ in settings does not lock it down as much as I thought but does limit information. Since anyone can go online and look anyone up, it is not hard to access information, as we demonstrated, in the beginning, this course, but my digital security and footprint are minimal. I like that, I am not one to enjoy lots of information out there about me so I would love to learn more about how I can be digitally secure, though I am not sure on what I can do to improve it. The things hackers and all others mentioned in the blog post prompt could discover about me are the same things they could see if we were friends- both digitally as a follower on a social media account and in real life. If they hacked my facebook they would see minimal pictures and my Aunt tagging me in things she finds funny. If they hacked something like my google account they would see a lot of spam mail from places I never thought of again after giving them my email and my digital receipt for a dog harness for my new dog: Penny.

I do know I am not very tech savvy, so I tend to limit myself from technology. That is probably one of the reasons I feel secure in my digital footprint; as I do not have much out there. I do also realize that it may not be as secure as I think it is since I am lacking in the technology department.

Again, I am happy to learn more about being digitally secure, I think Google will be my friend in figuring that out. Moving onto the significance of government surveillance I think it is necessary. Our government may need to improve on its execution of the surveillance technique but, I think it is a- for lack of a better phrase- “nescessary evil”. It moniters the digital securety on a mass scale and can ‘red flag’ things for the greater good.

Blog 6: Spatial History

From what I understand of the reading, spatial history is broadening the scope of history. In further explanation, spatial history is delving into all aspects of history- photos, videos, mapping, documents, etc., and including it all in the process and analysis of historical events and persons. Making more of a record and introducing more information. Based on the reading I also think that spatial history is the “new history” or the new way to go about learning and teaching it. It is more of a collaborative and wholesome approach to history. White does think that it is useful for digital historians, his idea that it would be beneficial is why he looked into it. White uses examples of how mapping- which from my understanding is the focal point of spatial history- has a lot too it. There is looking at a trail, geographic locations and comparing layers can introduce topics and possibly create answers to historical queries. There is still much to be understood and developed, White says that throughout the reading himself- but, it is a great precursor of what is to come. Compiling different elements and sources to add to the frame and better the picture of history.

Spatial history could be useful for studying segregation, in fact, I think it could have an interesting point of view. Such as mapping and then comparing a black section of a city or town to a white one. Maybe noticing that the segregated blacks were situated farther from bus stops, trains or other transportation vehicles compared to their white counterparts: demonstrating an unspoken thought about making it so blacks had a harder time getting around and traveling. The mapping of black towns and noting areas of high segregation could also be used in a more present aspect. Comparing the past with present housing and location. By that, I mean seeing if the oppression every really stoped in those areas. Did the black families ever leave? Even if it is less of a colored population currently are those areas considered lower income households now? The spatial history just opens more doors and adds to interpretation, not just for digital historians but in other fields too.

Skill Assignment #4 Blog Post

After a quick discussion of ideas my group and I chose the question: ” what areas were more likely to have demonstrations”. We figured the term ‘demonstration’ would allow wiggle room for events held in specific places. Since using the word meant we could look for all synonyms of demonstrations such as protest, strike, walk-out, rally and many more. We build the database to show what type of demonstration and then linked that to its geographic area. In the demonstration table, there are fields for demonstration type, the image of the newspaper article, the reason for the demonstration and a link to the geographic table by geographic ID. Under the geographic table you can see, state, city, hemisphere and time of year the demonstration was held.

We started off with more fields such as zip code and location of event (for example the white house or grand canyon) and organizer of demonstration. We ended up taking those off because they were not as present or stated in the articles as we had hoped. I think we did a great job at organizing our thoughts and ensuring you could find the answer to the question, which based on the database is that most demonstrations take place in the east coast- or relatively mid east area. At least that is what I found for my ten sources.

I learned that I really like airtable and was able to grasp it better than I thought! In all honesty, I am thinking of recommending it to my job as we are in desperate need of using a database instead of Google’s spreadsheet. I also learned that they really are similar to spreadsheets they just have added features that make them better- and in airtable’s case- easier. Digital historians would definitely benefit from what databases have to offer. They can organize and structure information, as well as link it to separate tables making it easy to show lots of information and not just have everything on one long spreadsheet that is probably not as easily sorted into chronological or alphabetical order. Databases just make sorting and researching history easier. I am glad to say it was not as scary of a skill assignment as I once thought, and if I can use it an historian sure can!

Link to the database: Demonstrations on Suffrage 390-004

Blog #4 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire was a horrific fire that occurred at a shirtwaist factory on March 2, 1911. The seamstress working there were chained in- presumably to ensure they were always working- and as a result where locked inside when the factory lit on fire. The fire claimed the lives of 145 women whom, according to the “Eyewitness” reading either succumbed to the fire or jumped from the building deciding a fall was better than flames. The fire is reflective of the progressive era due to it being a part of workers rights. Before the fire occurred the women had protested for an increase in wage and better working conditions, though while other protests succeeded theirs did not and they returned to work with the future of the fire waiting on them. The fire was not the first of industrial incidence and it will not be the last (even with today’s time in mind), but it occurred at the height of the reform efforts. While the trial proved futile in the attempt to charge the owners: Issac Harris and Issac Blanck, who were acquitted of the crime twice workers still sought justice.

After the fire, there was a shock, a disability, and wavering of faith in workers hearts, but that did not last long, they still demanded justice (which was hoped to be found through trial) and ensure that an event like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire would never happen again; be that through law or policy. Greenwlad’s reading showed that the Union and its workers kept trying and citing the incidence using it as a passionate drive to further their goals. The fire acted as a call for support and unity furthering efforts everywhere. Especially since the trial put the women working at the factory in such horrible lighting. Through our discussion in class, we established that the defense attorney for the owners painted the women workers as dramatic and promiscuous; discrediting their statements and with a jury of all men who were to disagree? In my opinion, this fire also lept into women’s rights, are women not people who should be treated with respect, dignity and a right to live? This trial and fire questioned that and fit into the progressive era, with women’s rights, accordingly.