Weekly Assignments

Assignment for April 16:

DISCUSSION:

  • Be prepared to report to the class on what your mapping work revealed about your ads.

PROJECTS:

  • Complete the cleanup work of scrubbing the misspellings and abbreviations in your transcriptions of the runaway slave ads, and please email me once you’ve completed this work.
  • Using the guide that I emailed to the class, create for each newspaper a map of the three main locations in your ads.
  • When you’ve completed your three maps, send me a link to each of them using the instructions I emailed.
  • Analyze your mapping results, look for telling patterns, and post a blog report of your findings. Please do this by 5pm on Tuesday, 4/15, so everyone will have time to read them before class!

Assignment for April 9:

DISCUSSION:

  • Be prepared to report to the class on what your Ngram work revealed about your ads. Bring histograms and charts to share!

PROJECTS:

  • Using the metadata guide handed out in class, complete the metadata collection for your runaway slave ads.
  • Complete the cleaning up of misspellings and abbreviations in your runaway slave ads under the column “Transcription (cleaned)”
  • Using the PH2 lessons on “Keywords in Context” as a guide (and the sample code and instructions I sent via email), generate both 5-grams and 7-grams of your runaway slave ads for (a) each newspaper and (b) for your collected ads from all three papers. Please do this for the following keywords:
    1. The top five most frequently appearing words in your word counts for each newspaper.
    2. The follow keywords we agreed upon in class: “negro,” “boy,” “man,” “girl,” “woman,” “color,” “mulatto,” “Texas,” “said,” “says”
    3. Any other five keywords that you choose.
  • Analyze your Ngram results, look for telling patterns, and post a blog report of your findings. Please do this by 5pm on Tuesday, 4/8, so everyone will have time to read them before class!

Assignment for April 2:

DISCUSSION:

  • Be prepared to report to the class about your metadata collection work.
  • Be prepared to report to the class on your coding with Ngrams in Programming Historian 2.

CODING:

PROJECTS:

  • Using the metadata guide handed out in class, collect the metadata for your runaway slave ads.
  • At the same time, clean up the misspellings and abbreviations in your runaway slave ads under the column “Transcription (cleaned)”

Assignment for March 26:

The assignments will be the same as last week — since we could not meet on March 19 — with one addition:

  • Write a blog post analyzing the patterns you see in your word counts. Please post by March 25 so everyone can read them before class, and tag them with the category “Word Counts — First Pass”.
  • As part of that, compare the word counts for your slave ads to the overall word counts for each of your newspapers. Those counts are easily available on the Mapping Texts project.
    • When you go here, simply use the timeline sliders to focus on your particular year.
    • Then click on “Unselect all” in the upper left-hand side of the map. Then click on the map for the city of the newspaper you want (Austin for the Gazette, Houston for the Telegraph, and Clarksville for the Standard) and the names of the papers should show up in the box on the right-hand side.
    • Then simply check the box for your particular newspaper(s) and below you will get a list of the most frequently appearing words.
    • Use that to contrast to the most frequently appearing words in the slave ads.

Assignment for March 19:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What did you find in your text-analysis of your particular year and newspapers?
  • What is the Google Ngram Viewer? What can it tell us, and what can it not?
  • What is “Culturomics” and will this change humanities scholarship? Does this reveal the power of “distant reading”?

CODING:

READING:

PROJECTS:

  • Using the PH2 lessons, count the word frequencies for each of your newspapers and output the results as an HTML page. Then do the same for your whole collection (that is, all three newspapers together for your year), and output the results as HTML.
  • Then analyze the results and write a short report of what you think the results reveal. Bring those to class, along with printouts of the HTML outputs of your text-mining, and be prepared to report to your classmates about what you found.
  • Explore the Google Ngram Viewer and see what interesting patterns you can discover.

Assignment for March 5:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What on earth is “text analysis,” and what does it offer humanities scholars?
  • What is distant reading? Why would humanities scholars ever use distant reading over close reading of sources?
  • What can Voyant reveal about our runaway slave ads?

CODING:

READING:

PROJECTS:

  • Complete your capture and transcription of the runaway slave ads for the Telegraph, Clarksville Northern Standard, and the Texas State Gazette.
  • Use the text analysis tools available in Voyant to explore the language patterns embedded in your transcribed runaway slave ads. For each newspaper, copy and paste your transcribed ads from the spreadsheet into a single document and then paste those collected ads into Voyant. Then explore the tools offered by Voyant and see what insights you can glean:
    1. Analyze the collected ads from each newspaper, and see what commonalities and differences you discover between them. Are the language patterns similar between your three newspapers? How do they differ from one another?
    2. Compare the results for the individual newspapers against an analysis of all of the ads together. (In other words, put all the ads you’ve collected for all three papers into Voyant, and then compare those result to what you found by analyzing each newspaper individually.)
  • Be prepared to report to your fellow students what you found by using Voyant to analyze your ads from the newspapers, and what you think the tools offered by Voyant can and cannot offer us.

Assignment for February 19 & 26:

PLEASE NOTE: We will NOT be meeting on February 19. These next two weeks are intended to be time to catch up on our datasets, so class time will be directed toward that end. I will, however, be in my office during 12-3pm on February 19, and so I encourage you to come chat with me about any questions or concerns you have.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What patterns have you discovered in your runaway slave ads?
  • What are the HTML, XML, and TEI mark-up schemas, and why would we want to use them?

CODING:

READING:

PROJECTS:

  • Complete your capture of the runaway slave ads for the Telegraph and the Clarksville Northern Standard.
  • Because we’ve found so little in the Northern Standard, we will also canvass the Texas State Gazette using the Google Spreadsheet (which you will get via email).
  • Carefully review HTML, XML, and TEI from the readings, and be prepared to report on them to your classmates. (I will be asking several of you to explain what they are, and how they work, to everyone!)

Assignment for February 12:

PLEASE NOTE: We will be meeting in Willis Library 035, rather than our normal classroom, so we can meet with Mark Phillips, associate dean for UNT’s Digital Libraries, who will provide you with an inside view of the Portal and the structure of their digital collections.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What are the differences between OCR and transcription? Why would you choose one over another for a particular digital project?
  • What, exactly, is metadata and how is it collected and used for various digital projects?
  • What are we finding in our runaway slave ads?
  • What kind of metadata do we want to harvest from our runaway slave ads?

CODING: Carefully complete lesson 9 for the Python course on Codecademy, and review earlier lessons (particularly 7 on functions).

READING:

PROJECTS:

  • Capture the runaway slave ads for the Clarksville’s The Northern Standard for your particular year, using the Google Spreadsheet (which you will get via email), and record all the runaway slave ads that you find.
  • Examine the OCR quality for your ads – try to assess how accurate the OCR version is.
    • To do this, simply take the URLs for your ads in our dataset and then replace the part that begins with “zoom/?zoom=” with “ocr.txt” which will give you the OCR for that particular page.
    • So, for example,
      http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth235922/m1/3/zoom/?zoom=5&lat=7646&lon=4583&layers=BT
      becomes:
      http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth235922/m1/3/ocr.txt
  • Write a blog post on what types of metadata other runaway slave ads project have harvested and what you think we should capture for our database, explaining why those are the important fields. Please post by Monday (2/10), read the posts of your classmates, and be prepared to debate. Here are the projects to examine for their use of metadata:
  • Compose at least three questions to ask Mark Phillips about the Portal’s newspaper and digital collections, about their digitization process, database structures, and use of metadata.

Assignment for February 5:

PLEASE NOTE: We will be meeting in Gateway 48, rather than or normal classroom, so we can attend the presentation by Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What runaway slave ads did you find?
  • What kinds of research questions do we want to ask of our dataset?
  • What potential research challenges will we need to address?

CODING: Complete lessons 5-8 for the Python course on Codecademy, and review lessons 1-4.

READING:

Please review the following online projects on runaway slave ads, and be prepared to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of their various approaches.

PROJECT:

  • Capture the runaway slave ads for your particular year, using the Google Spreadsheet (which you will get via email), and record all the runaway slave ads that you find.

Assignment for January 29:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • What do we know about slavery in Texas?
  • What do we know about runaway slaves, particularly in relation to Texas?
  • What can runaway slave ads tell us about the institution and the people involved?
  • What can runaway slave ads NOT tell us about the institution and the people involved?

CODING: Complete lessons 3-4 for the Python course on Codecademy, and review lessons 1-2.

READING (all available on our class Blackboard site):

  • John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, Chs. 2, 5, 7, 9
  • Randolph Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865, Ch. 11
  • William Dean Carrigan, “Slavery on the Frontier: The Peculiar Institution in Central Texas,” Slavery and Abolition
  • Sean Kelley, “’Mexico in His Head’: Slavery and the Texas-Mexico Border, 1810-1860,” Journal of Social History
  • Ron Tyler, “Fugitive Slaves in Mexico,” Journal of Negro History
  • James David Nichols, “The Line of Liberty: Runaway Slaves and Fugitive Peons in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands,” Western Historical Quarterly

PROJECTS:

  • Explore the Telegraph and Texas Register in the Portal to Texas History for your particular year between 1848 and 1858, looking for runaway slave ads. Write up 1-2 paragraphs about what you discover and be prepared to report your findings to your teammates.
  • Write up your own definition of what digital scholarship is and is not, and post to our class Research Blog by Monday, January 27. When you post, please add it to the category “Defining Digital Scholarship”. Before our next class, read through the posts by your colleagues.

Assignment for January 22:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  What is digital scholarship?  What are its potentials?  What are its limitations?

CODING: Set up an account on Codecademy (cadecademy.com) and complete lessons 1-2 for the Python course.

READING:
•    Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” The Atlantic (July 1945)
•    Meredith Hindley, “The Rise of the Machines: NEH and the Digital Humanities, the Early Years
•    Matt Kirschenbaum, “What Is Digital humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?
•    Journal of American History, “Interchange: The Promise of Digital History
•    Edward L. Ayers, “Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future?” Educause Review
•    Lisa Spiro, ”Getting Started in the Digital Humanities

PROJECT:  Pick an early digital history project from the list below, explore it, and write a one-paragraph reaction to it.  Be prepared to tell your classmates about it: