Distant Reading

Today we learned about several interesting ways to analyze texts. In my own research, the best use I have considered so far might be culling city guidebooks for certain phrases or terms. Part of my project has to do with tracing the ways in which the antebellum urban South has been remembered. So I find myself perusing guidebooks looking, for instance, for references to African Americans or to slavery. Being able to do that sort of scan across a broader number of sources could be useful, were I able to sort out the technical aspects.

Using Digital Tools Meaningfully

As we hit the midpoint of this institute, I am thrilled to have the chance to learn so much so quickly. My application focused on the ways in which I hoped to use digital tools in the classroom, and I am now much better prepared to carry out those plans. Learning more about Omeka, especially, is something I have wanted to do since NCPH 2013, and I now think my students will benefit from using it and WordPress as ways to present historical information.

Incorporating digital tools meaningfully into my own research is more tricky. My research and writing process is eccentric. I use Zotero for early bibliography, but read on paper, and take notes longhand. I have had some luck later typing those up, which lets me search by keyword. Although inefficient, the redundancy forces me to think repeatedly about the material.

As an urban historian, I think mapping is the most likely area of growth for my work. I hope to learn GIS, but that will take time. My current work wrestles with historic preservation, gentrification, and segregation. This summer I was excited to figure out how to use a Google Fusion table to map African-American owned barber shops and beauty parlors in Savannah in 1952:

I have also used Social Explorer to see historic census data spatially. Tracking property values over time is challenging, and may involve pulling the online property tax cards for various properties and logging sale prices over time, then somehow analyzing that data. I am not sure what forms that analysis may take, but look forward to learning more here.

Source: Using Digital Tools Meaningfully

Studying Savannah and Beyond

This site will feature a range of local history projects created with my students at Armstrong State University. At present, my plan is to pursue three initial projects. For the first, students will select public domain historic photographs of Savannah and display them in curated collections. In the second, working with University Archivist Caroline Hopkinson, they will scan copies of the university newspaper, The Inkwell, which began publication in 1935. Full scans will be displayed at Archive.org, while students will present online interpretive thematic pieces based on selected articles.

The most significant initial project intersects with my own research on urban development, historic preservation, and segregation by race and class. We will present online the infamous “redlining” maps of Georgia cities (Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, and Atlanta) created by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in the 1930s, along with the “survey data” that was used to determine lending priorities. We will also provide contextual information to help site visitors understand the cities from a historical perspective. This will involve substantial work with additional government documents (such as the housing monographs produced by the FHA and federal census data), photographs, literature, as well as engagement with relevant existing scholarship. I hope that these initial forays into digital history will serve as a springboard to an ongoing project focused on showcasing the development of Georgia’s cities.

Source: Studying Savannah and Beyond