Working with Mapping and Timelines

This week’s blog was a large step into the use of an actual online tool, mapping or timelining. I used Timeline JS3 to complete this task and found the work more tedious then difficult… then again I don’t believe I utilized more than a fraction of the sites possibilities. For some, a task such as this one may have seemed easy or redundant. In my case, this task took time to comprehend and even more time to produce something that was any where close to working. If I understood what I believe to be the method of embedding my time line here it is:

If not then here is the link to the timeline: My Timeline

I chose to timeline my years after highschool graduation, this way the information was simple and not another thing to worry about on top of the actual development and creation of the timeline itself.

StoryMapJS and TimeLineJS

This first link is a story map I made using StoryMapJS. My story map is about Florence, Italy, and its most historic landmarks.

The second link is a basic timeline of my life that I made using TimeLineJS.

Overall, my experience of making the story map and timeline were more intuitive than I expected. Both tools have easy directions to follow and can be made relatively quickly. I could see both of these tools as useful for my project documenting the History of the HCITCC. The story map could be used to walk the audience through each room of the building, with information including the name of the room, and the highlighted features and technology in each of them. The timeline could be used to document the constructing from start to finish of the building. Hopefully one, if not both of these tools can be used in my group project.

Map and Timeline

I could not figure out how to embed my map and timeline in my post so I have included links to them below.  If someone could tell me how to embed I would much appreciate it!

Link to StoryMapJS:

Link to TimeLineJS:

Creating the map and timeline was not as easy as I expected.  I am not the best at figuring out how to use new digital tools, so this was a good experience for me.  While creating the map (which shows places I would like to travel to), I did have some difficulties looking at the finished product.  I clicked “preview” and sometimes the map would not zoom in enough to see the exact location on the map.  I was able to correct this, but I wonder if I was looking at the actual presentation and not simply a preview if it would work properly (which it does).  On the other hand, I had a more difficult time putting the timeline (mine showed the various taxes the British government imposed on the American colonies) together as opposed to viewing it after I had finished.  I opened up the spreadsheet and clicked “publish” several times before I finally understood that I was supposed to enter in my own data before doing clicking that option.  I completely missed this part in the instructions and so it took me a few tries before I realized what I was supposed to do.  My prior experience with instructions for digital tools has not always been helpful, but these directions were, so I need to break this bad habit of not reading things all the way through.  Once I figured out how to use the timeline I was able to create one and view it with no issues.

I like certain aspects of StoryMapJS and TimeLineJS, but I am still unsure if my group should incorporate them into our project.  For the map, I like that the it zooms from one location to the other and connects the dots for you.  I also like that the location on the map is marked and along with it comes an actual picture and description.  My concern with this is that the screen looks too cluttered as there is a chunk of information in the margin.  Also, the gray map does not make the presentation look very exciting.  If there were a way to thin out the information and create more space as well as change the color of the map, then it might be an interesting tool to use for our work with the Slaughter and Murray letters, perhaps showing troop movements, especially those of the 114th Pennsylvania, Murray’s regiment, which would give site users more context for reading his letters.  For the timeline, I like the idea of this, but it was frustrating and a bit confusing that the bottom line (which shows years and months) kept moving and changed with every event.  It was hard to understand the bigger picture of how the events fit together when I could not see all the previous events on the timeline while I focused on one particular slide.  The timeline feature could be helpful for my group’s project as far as showing the progression of the Civil War and which events Slaughter and Murray either experienced themselves or heard about, but for me personally a tool that shows all events at once with the ability to focus on one at a time would help me put things in perspective, whereas with the timeline I feel like I am just looking at separate events and not a collection of them.


Here also is a screen shot of my Feedly.  In the left hand margin, it shows I subscribed to everyone’s blog and then to Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s and Bryan Alexander’s from the Digital Humanities Compendium.

Feedly screen shot


James Monroe Group Website Reflections

One of the biggest things that we found to be helpful while navigating through the sites given were the visual appeal and the easy navigation. Font sizes and colors played a big part in being able to understand the content. If we couldn’t read we would skip it. The layout was also important and how spread out the content was on the page for making it easier to use. Some sites would direct us into other pages, while others would be tedious and open several tabs. We also liked how some websites made it so that you could search the content in a historic document, while also being able to see the original documents. Clickable images that linked to the content were also helpful in the navigation. Finally the images and graphics need to have enough information and context to be understandable, but succinct enough for people to read it.

Group Discussion of Websites

Our group went through many of the sites listed on the syllabus together (a couple links are either not working or pose a security risk) and discussed what we liked and did not like about a select few that we thought were the best or the worst:

1.  Emilie Davis Diaries (Omeka)

  • Pros:  On the whole, our group really liked this site.  Firstly, it uses space well and it includes actual pictures of the original diary pages, which makes for a more interactive experience with the documents.  Secondly, there were two forms of navigation around the site.  You can click “Pages” and click on a specific range of dates, or click one of the numbers on the menu across the top of the screen to find the same thing.
  • Cons:  Firstly, we did not like that there were comments included on the website.  They can become distracting so for our site we plan to disable comments.  Secondly, this site also has a drop-down menu to look at different pages, but you cannot click out of this box and are forced to click one of the selections with diary entries.  Thirdly, we did not like that when you search the name “Davis,” the section that describes what the site is about comes up, when we think that only diary entries should come up.  Lastly, older posts on the website are actually the most recent diary entries, which is counter-intuitive.


2.  The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

  • Pros:  The layout of the site is not cluttered, but it is not that helpful either.
  • Cons:  Firstly, the font on this website was too small and was hard to read.  Secondly, there is a map on the home page, but you cannot click on it to enlarge it.  Thirdly, the actual layout of the site is fine, but when you get into the database itself it is confusing and requires a 40 page PDF to explain how to navigate through it.  For example, we clicked on a table with estimates, but it did not explain what the estimates were of and the table’s title was simply “Table.”  So, we need to make sure that we clearly identify what our information is and make the font large enough so site users can read it easily.


3.  Mapping the Republic of Letters

  • Pros:  The site itself is easy to navigate.
  • Cons:  Firstly, we did not like that you could not enlarge the graphs and pictures.  These things could have had very helpful and useful information on them, but it could not be obtained due to the small size.  Secondly, on the home page, the picture at the top of the screen is very cluttered and is too visually stimulating.


4.  French Revolution

  • Pros:  We did not like anything in particular about this site.
  • Cons:  Firstly, this site was very cluttered and a waste of space.  All the content is squished onto the left-hand side of the screen.  The links to all the primary sources are contained in the left margin and you have to open a separate window to view many of them.  Secondly, maps and other images are able to be enlarged but you also have to open several windows to get to the larger image.  Thirdly, the archive of documents do not seem to be organized into any particular order, which makes it hard to navigate through them.  So, if you were just seeing if this site had any useful sources without knowing what specifically to look for, then it could be cumbersome and frustrating.  After looking at this site, our group again sees the need for good and deliberate organization.


5.  9/11 Living Memorial Digital Archive (Omeka)

  • Pros:  The home page was simple, but easy to navigate.
  • Cons:  The whole site was not terribly interesting.  Firstly, when looking through the “Browse Items” tab, there was not much organization and was cluttered and some of the tags do not work when you click on them.  On the whole, this site was unimpressive.  This site showed our group that we need to make our site attractive and do not need to compromise visual appeal for effective organization.


Overall, many of the sites that we looked at were simply laid out and easy to navigate, but we were not overly impressed with them.  The big takeaways we can apply to our project are:  (1) organize the site well so users do not become frustrated, (2) make the site attractive so users will want to engage with it, (3) clearly identify primary sources and statistics if and when we put them on our website, and (4) clearly describe what the site is about and what a user can expect from it as succinctly as possible on the home page.

Digital Tools & Website Feedback

Between these three platforms, I am more familiar with WordPress and it’s capabilities. Whether it’s used as a blog or a full blown website, you have the ability to customize to your liking and add various media content with ease. Zotero is new to me, and other than managing online references quickly and easily, I’m not sure what else it could be good for. Omeka is new to me as well, but seems to a good platform for my groups project. We will be digitizing diaries from the Civil War and Omeka will allow us to add each item with metadata into collections with a clean display. There are some cool plugins as well.

 9/11 Living Memorial Digital Archive

The page is clean and is not flooded with a bunch of tabs on the side panel. It has a featured at the top and it changes every time the page is refreshed. Good metadata and photos (which can be enlarged). The search tab is cool if you know what you want to look for. There is no home tab, you have to click on the top banner to get back to the homepage (not a big deal).

Imagining The Past 

The layout could use some work and the About page was a bit plain (only one sentence). I did not like the way the tabs/links within each different page were displayed (it was kind of al over the place in certain areas). Exhibits were cool and content was text heavy.

Guided Age Murder

Love the interactive maps and photos that enable you to explore the city. Great content throughout. Nice addition of the Home button, we look to add one as well to our site.

Emily Davis Diaries

I like the feature and comment sections on this page. The keywords/tags at the bottom was tacky and I would have put the About section on a separate tab.

How Did They Make That?

Nothing really positive to say about this blog. It’s obvious that it is a WordPress site and flooded mostly with text and links. Really boring and needs some updating (although it is used as a personal blog).


Digtial History site discussion

For valley of shadow we thought we could use the home page style for our site potentially. However, we felt it had too much of a museum feel.

For the French Revolution site was not conducive to how to set up our site. Yet we agreed we need a search bar. 

The emancipation project was not with our style.

For the Gilded age site we really liked the interactive map, however we unsure if we could do something similar with the Diaries data.

The Great Molasses flood site had a good concept but very crowded, and slightly confusing. We did like Dublin Core meta data.

Map Scholar we liked the style of the document front and center with transcription on side, and the scroll through. 

For the Digital History site we liked the info being present at the bottom in categories, not so much the scroll function.

The Emile Davis Diaries was the site we liked the most. The idea of potentially allowing comments to get better transcriptions was appealing. We liked the annotations, but not the tags function. However we thought it needed a separate about page, and an probably intro page.

The Digital Scholarship lab site was more interactive and data driven then our needs.

The Mapping the Republic of Letters site we really disliked most of it. However the color scheme of red and tan was nice.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project, was less our style.  We thought it should include info with images not leave them separate from larger image. 

Trans atlantic slave trade database did not work.

Imagining the Past had a exhibit like structure, but was too text heavy.

Grad Student DH Projects at UNC were confusing to navigate and the sites were pretty empty. It was also clearly more blog like, which we did not like.

For How did they make that?, it was too a clearly course site, hard to separate from that.

We also came up with the idea of a featured page with a randomly generated diary page on the front page.

Group Blog #Surf

Taking a look as a group to the entire set list of web pages we were assigned to surf, we find a mixture of helpful and not so helpful tools and utilization of web-space. Together we came to a conclusion that ( showed an all around intuitive and user friendly format, that offered creativity and information in abundance. While on some of the sights we found their ideas are great but didn’t hit the mark for example; 1919 Molasses Flood site looks good as an initial concept, but appears to be poorly executed and difficult to navigate. Overall this list of sights gave us adequate in sight to the possibilities for our group project. An inspiration we have would to utilize the idea of displaying the buildings lay outs though virtual mapping similar to the Valley of Shadow (, maybe even adding video formatting.


Other thoughts:

  • Digital Scholarship Lab is very well organized, visually wonderful, and has a great mix of AV and text information. A+ in all categories.
  • Imagining the past is well executed and doesn’t suffer from being somewhat plain.
  • French Revolution website uses colors that lack contrast, text covers images, no neutral color space, the alignment is off, and the font is difficult to read. Each takes a chunk out of the experience.[
  • Emancipation website is a strange mixture of visually bland and intuitively confusing although for content it is bursting at the seams.
  • Slave trade link is broken, hopefully it’s not lost forever.