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Portfolio Activity 7: Narrative Maps (Construction)

I built a map of James Sterling’s life and the journey he took in order to accomplish fur trade in the U.S. during 1700-1800. First, I created a timeline of important events of James Sterling while I was reading the book. For example, in early 1700s, James Sterling’s birth Ireland; In 1750s, he served in Pennsylvania during French and Indian War. Then, I listed couple events after 1761, when he started to do fur trade business.

After I have listed the timeline, I chose StoryMapJS as a tool to build a map because I found easy to use. However, I could not search location by using the search bar in the website so I have to locate Detroit and other location by myself. In addition, I also uploaded pictures to make the map more interesting to read.

here is link of my map: https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/fab27e20ef14824fd82a6e3b75185fc4/james-sterling-fur-trade/index.html

Portfolio Activity 6: Geospatial work

In class, we explored the project The Spread of Slavery in the US by Lincoln Mullen, which is basically a map that shows the spread of U.S. Slavery during 1790-1860. I found that answering historical question by using geospatial visualization is really convenient, geospatial visualization and analysis is an easier way to deliver the message in a geographic space.

Taking an example of The Spread of Slavery in the US by Lincoln Mullen, this multi-dimensional map shows the population, location, and time of slavery in the U.S., it also used ten colors from shallow to dark to represent enslaved population. In addition, I can also click on the map to see a certain area with more details, such as the total enslaved population and free population of Knox, Kentucky. Therefore, I think geospatial visualization and analysis helps readers understand the process of slavery spread in different time and different places more easily than just reading text content.

Considering the pitfalls of geospatial visualization and analysis, using false maps and inaccurate navigation are two of them. Because the map is changing over the time period, so it is important to use the correct one in certain time period.

Portfolio Activity 5: Text Analysis (Construction)

I got 40 topics after I uploaded the American South: North American Slave Narratives to Topic Modeling Tool. Below is a picture of topics from 0 to 26. Among those 40 topics, I chose NO.12 as my topic: bond, water, scott, carver, dr, cotton, sugar, put, add, 1, peanut, make, cut, sweet, gin, seed, plant, corn, potatoes, and milk. Since most of the items are related to food, so I made a hypothesis that this topic is about trading goods. In addition, I also found that “cotton” and “sugar” were products of slavery and slave labor, so I also assume that the topic could be related to slavery goods.

After making the hypothesis, I clicked on the topic and I found there are 204 documents in this topic. I decided to select top 10 documents to put into Voyant because these documents have higher number of word that assigned to this topic. And then here is the data generated from Voyant.

            From the cloud, I selected Top 85 words that appears most frequently in the documents and I was surprised that most words has nothing to do with food, such as ‘time’ (appears 1578 times), ‘man’ (appears 1373 times), ‘mr’ (appears 1548 times), ‘said’ (appears 1467).However, these words seemed meaningless because it had nothing to do with my hypothesis, so I looked into words that has relatively less appearance but might relate to my hypothesis, such as ‘work’, ‘negro’, ‘white’, ‘school’, ‘money’, ‘life’ . Then, I selected some of these words and Voyant generated into a chart below.

From the chart, I didn’t find anything interesting except that the line ‘white’ and ‘negro’ rise and drop together. Then, I also looked into other parts of Voyant.

To conclude, by analyzing data from these documents, I realized that my topic is not about trading goods neither slave produced goods. My topic is about the life of slavery, for example, what they went through as a slave? What was the social environment at that times?

Portfolio Activity 4: Text Analysis: What is it good for?

Text analysis refers to extract information and facts from parsing texts, such as an article, an email, a note, a news, and etc. It is commonly used in various areas, including history, business, production, so on and so for. There are two mains steps in order to do text analysis. The first step is basically to get access to text. Then, the second step is to preprocess the text, which means deleting unnecessary information, such as advertisements, annotations, and navigation bar. Therefore, the true and useful information will be extracted.

In this big data era, the scale and complexity of data has increased drastically. It is no doubt that text analysis plays an important role in this society.

As a historian, there are many benefits by doing text analysis. First of all, text analysis helps classifying the text by different features, such as keyword, years published, and authors. On the contrary, text analysis can also classify text into same categories if those text has same features. Information retrieval is another benefit, it allows historians to search for certain information they need among countless documents in computer systems. As a result, when historians are trying to find certain text, it saves a lot of time for them because they don’t have to spend a lot of time reading unrelated text.

Carefully perceiving and experiencing the world of text analysis allows the text itself to enter the text. Text analysis, is a way to rediscover the writer’s feelings and thoughts from the text. It helps historians understand the original content of the text and the author’s thoughts and emotions. The purpose of all text analysis is to overcome the past culture of the text, the strangeness and distance between the history and the historians, and to assimilate the meaning of the text; the historians ignores the limited understanding when interpreting the text. Text analysis also allows historians to construct the individual spiritual world in cultural identity, enriches the individual spiritual world in cultural criticism, and enhances the cultural literacy construction level in aesthetics.

Portfolio Activity 3: Website Review

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia

The resources used in this website are sound and reliable, for instance, there are picture of the actual news and a text version of the news in order to be read more easily under the Explore Advertisement. The purpose of this website is to show captured slaves and servants in 18th and 19th century in Virginia. I think the overall website addresses this purpose well.

However, this news part has a timeline limitation because it does not include any ads since 1810s. Furthermore, the news part is also lack of comprehensiveness. For instance, there are slavery ads from September to December of 1736, but no ads from January to August. In addition, the typesetting is not very proper and personal profile part is still under construction. However, this website has its advantage. All resources are well-organized and easy to find. Each category is labeled clearly for users to navigate their resources. In addition, it allows users to search for slavery by name, sex, age, and skills.

Freedom On the Move

The home page looks very appealing and attractive for users. The purpose of this website is to show the movement of enslaved people and their lives. An abundant resources base is an important feature of this website, and all 22234 advertisements is easy to access once the users search it by four categories, which is advertisement, runaway, slaver, and runaway event. However, I was confused of where to find actual content when I first look through the website, then I realized I need to sign in order to get access to advertisement. Another drawback is that some picture of advertisement is hard for users to read because the original content looks destroyed. This website is made for everyone, especially scholars, students, and citizen historians, and I think it satisfy their needs.

Portfolio Activity 2: Create Two Items with Complete Metadata

I created one text item based on the resource I used for portfolio 1. When I was creating the item for it, I got confused filing the Dublin Core. I don’t really know the different between types and format of the resource, neither nor the relation part. However, the website http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/ helped me a lot to understand the definition and what I should write under each category. The second item I created was which was a Thomas Jefferson’s portrait, the process of creating this item went smoother. Especially after I found there is metadata provided by the original website. And lastly, I read the text and add annotations, I also used the highlight tool to mark some texts.

Item 1: http://shuyizhang.com/omeka/items/show/1

Item 2: http://shuyizhang.com/omeka/items/show/2

Exhibit: http://shuyizhang.com/omeka/exhibits/show/thomas-jefferson-s-attitude-to/from-thomas-jefferson-to-briss

Portfolio Activity 1: Research Process Journaling

My original research question is about the impact of slavery in the southern United States. After I searched it in both lib.msu.edu and Google Scholar, I found that there are many secondary resources that can answer this question, but primary resources were what I need. Then, I decided to modify my research question.

Since Thomas Jefferson is an important figure in American slavery history, I googled him and slavery, after reading some articles. I changed my research question to what was Thomas Jefferson’s attitude towards slavery. Then, I began to search the answer in MSU’s online library, Google Scholar, DPLA. In order to find a good primary resource among variety resources, I checked the date and author when I first looked into them. Especially date, resources that was beyond that time period. After that, I briefly read the content and annotation to see if it really answers my research question.

 Soon, I found a document called From Thomas Jefferson to Brissot De Warville, 11 February 1788. In this document, Thomas Jefferson wrote “I am very sensible of the honour you propose to me of becoming a member of the society for the abolition of the slave trade. You know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the trade but of the condition of slavery: and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacrifice for that object”. From this document, it was clear that Thomas Jefferson held a positive attitude towards abolition of slave trade.