Data Mining

My sources are not digitized, so I would not undertake a large scale data mining project. I will likely use data mining as an exploratory tool for my research. I might use keyword searching to assess how use of words like “citizen” or “nation” changed over time. In addition, I might compare how Americans wrote about African Americans, Native Americans, and German Americans. I see more applications for data mining in my teaching. Explorations of data mining tools provide excellent opportunities for students to see new conclusions in historical data and to assess the possibilities of digital history.

Non-Textual Sources

In a previous class, I required students to make a movie on a historical debate. I allowed them to present the historical debate in creative ways. Some used a game show format, others interviewed experts, and still others narrated a story. The assignment, however, was too complicated for an introductory level class. They struggled primarily with the history and not with the technology. Most used iMovie, and I was surprised that no students complained about having to learn how to use the application. Many seemed to even enjoy the assignment. In future classes, I will require students to make a movie presenting one historical argument rather than different sides of a debate.

Having now explored ThingLink, I will incorporate an assignment into selected classes that requires students to annotate a primary source image using secondary sources and other primary sources. For example, I have a 3D scanning project for public history students in my class in the fall in which students will interpret an object and create a 3D model along the lines of the Smithsonian X 3D tours or the Taung Child Skull. I will show them ThingLink as one tool that they may use to add interpretation to a gallery of pictures.

Source: Non-Textual Sources

Dakota Massacre / Uprising / War

In August 1862, four Indians murdered three white men, a white woman, and a white girl near Acton, Minnesota, on a drunken dare. This sparked a larger uprising in which savage Indians rampaged across the frontier, indiscriminately killing white men and raping white women. That was the story settlers told of what became known as the Sioux Uprising or the Indian Massacre. Dakota Indians told a different story, one of invasion, dispossession, trickery, and abuse. Dakotas had given white settlers access to vast swaths of their land in exchange for an annual annuity. Much of the annuity usually went directly into the pockets of white traders. Reduced was better than nothing, however, and in 1862 the annuity was late, and some Dakotas were starving.

I plan to use a tool (such as Twine or inklewriter) designed for Interactive fiction, which is experiencing a resurgence of interest, to create a non-fiction interactive narrative that will be part history and part counterfactual. Users will be able to follow the perspectives of different historical actors, read their own words, and make decisions on their behalf.

Source: Dakota Massacre / Uprising / War