Gordon Update

Lately our project has been a lot of uploading and tweaking how we present the site. We got our timeline up and running on the site this week and that is running smoothly. We also are soon to make public our other completed summary pages after a final group review. Recently I also went ahead and installed Google Analytics just for fun to see if people actually look at our site after we present it. (For sheer curiosity)

We have also been getting a lot of invaluable help for a lot of people in this last week, especially including Suzanne Chase and Martha Burtis as we have been ironing out some technological processes. We also have been working through the diaries and checking to make sure that all of the transcriptions line up with the pages and there are no discrepancies.

Gordon Project Update

In the past week the main work our group has been involved in is the inputing of the diaries into the Omeka site. Following the trend of struggle I have had with Omeka this semester everything went along great till there was a glitch.

This week we realized that while we had all been uploading the site we had forgot to officially agree on a standard for the titles of each item. Realizing this we sat down last class and made a decision how to label each item and made sure that each group member was aware of the standard. The only issue was that each of us had to go back and manually edit each item for the small formatting mistakes. In particular I forgot to add a comma after the date and had to manually go back into over 100 entries and add the comma. While tedious I am glad we realized it now and not at the very end of the whole project.

Another issue was that we did not set up the path correctly for connecting images to the site. So half of the images we uploaded had to be uploaded again after we sorted this out. Again an irritating moment. Other then these two hiccups though the uploading process has been going along great. James finished imputing our largest diary and other diaries are close to completion. Other group member have been working on completing our summary page and Gordon page throughout the week and we are working on changing some of the visuals on the site to improve the quality of the site.


When as a group we started to upload Pvt Gordon’s diaries to our website we made a important discovery. It turns out that both diary 3987 and diary 3983 claim to take place during the same exact time. Each diary claims to end on March 18th 1864. Now there are of course a number of reasons this is impossible. Other then the obvious question why would he keep two diaries? The two diaries have conflicting content and conflicting days of the week for the apparent same date. 

To try and figure this out Alex figured out that diary 3983 started on Tuesday November 10th, by using a calendar application he was able to confirm that November fell on a Tuesday in 1863 so diary 3983 was in fact the diary for November 10th- March 18th. I started to do some looking into diary 3987 which claimed to go from July 10th 1863- March 18th 1864. What I found was that July 10th did not fall on a Wednesday as the diary claimed.  In 1863 July 10th actually fell on a Friday, however in 1861 July 10th did fall on a Wednesday .

Originally we as a group was convinced that diary 3987 was the correct diary for 1863, this was because the diary actually had an old label on the back that said the diary went from July 10th 1863- March 18th 1864.

frsp_3987_0112 (2)

Another reason we were very convinced was that the first page of the diary also had 1863 written on it. We first figured that it was Gordon who included the year because the numbers looked very similar to his numbers. However under closer inspection the numbers for the year are slightly different then his.


When we realized that these two diaries were so mislabeled I realized we needed to check the other diaries just in case those also got wrong dates attributed to them. (I am currently in the process of checking those now.) I am still unsure why this label was ever attached to the diary when the year is clearly incorrect or why someone wrote into the diary. However this process has reminded me of the danger when you assume that sources you receive all have the correct data. Thankfully we caught this, however mislabeling and incorrectly categorized dates are a big issue in researching especially when you assume that all the information is correct.

The Importance of Digital Indentity

I already had some familiarity with looking at digital identity constructively. In a project I did recently in another class I examined blogging and as a piece of that I looked at the way Mary Washington students and staff, as well as others shape their digital identities. This exercise pushed those thoughts I have already been forming further into understanding digital identity.

1 Digital Identity needs to start young

I’ve heard it before but in Will Richardson’s article,“Footprints in a Digital Age”,  he put it blatantly that he worried about his young children’s digital identity. I’ve always thought that collage age and up is when people really start structuring their digital identities purposefully it surprised me that we should think about from early childhood.


2 With the internet people can find anything

In the Wired article about Evan Ratliff I was surprised just how much information people could find on him. The collective “everyone” always tells you to be careful what you have online because it can always been found however I never understood how deeply this “everything” went. (How do you find someones cat sitter for instance?)


3 Google has the power

The majority of the time when someone goes to look you up they plug your name into Google and see what comes up. This is a continual process that I have been a part of too. When I got my random college roommate freshman year the first thing I did was google her and was concerned because I found almost nothing. The blog post, Personal branding in the age of Google reaffirmed this feeling. When you want to hire someone you Google them whatever comes up gives you an instant opinion of a person.


4 It is important (and necessary) to build networks

In “Footprints in a Digital Age” there is a discussion about how not only are networks important but the way we shape them as well. I particularly felt that the concept of creating a network that challenges you to grow and gives you other view points was an important point. It can be easy to form a comfortable network of praise online but listening to opposition can be productive in some ways.


5 Control over your digital identity is important.

Prior to this assignment I had already come to this conclusion through the other articles and discussions I have had with people.  The articles however served to further confirm my opinion. How you use digital identity and how others perceive you is important. It gives potential employers and total strangers a snapshot into who you are and making sure you are the author of that image is increasingly important.

Creative Commons & Wikipedia

Look at the History and Discussion tabs of several Wikipedia history entries and write about what you see. 2) Consider what Creative Commons License you might use for your own site.  What role does copyright play in the resources you are working with this semester?

I looked into several different history entries on Wikipedia to get a sense of how active those pages are and what most of the editing involved for those topics. Since I already had some practice editing Wikipedia I have a decent understanding of how administrators deal with newly updated content and the processes of how to make contributions to pages.

One of the interesting points I noticed was the varying levels of seriousness in the discussions on content in the talk pages for each articles. There were sections that contained heated debates right next to sections on reasons for removal or grammar arguments. For instance on the talk section for Sun Yat-sen there was a grammar question on how his name should be shorted when discussing him throughout the page. One of the contributors suggested using “Yat-sen” whenever he was referenced. However another reviewer brought up that “Yat-sen” was his first name and it is standard both in Chinese and English writing to primarily refer to an individual by either their full or last name.

Another page I looked into had an interesting perspective on sources. Wikipedia articles often have a series of sources for the information presented. In an article on the Great Leap Forward one editor wrote about trying to diversify the sources for quotes that the article uses. Noting that all of the quotes seem to be coming from the same print source, they suggest trying to check those quotes in other sources just to maintain the credibility of those sources.

In terms of Creative Commons licensing as a group we would need to come to a consensus on what type of licensing we should use for our site. We should also discuss with Luisa Dispenzirie about any expectations the National Park Service might had in terms of licensing. The diaries are of course currently public domain however since the Park Service are in charge of the diaries they may have an opinion or a standard procedure on copyright that we should be aware and respectful about. However I speculate that we will probably use a Creative Common license in the end, and one that is more restrictive than the least restrictive license that Creative Commons offers.


Project Update

This past week our group working on the Stephen W. Gordon diaries has been focusing on finishing the actual scanning of the diaries. Mostly this has involved a lot of time working in the digital archiving lab. Suzanne Chase has been incredibly helpful in answering our questions on scanning and how to properly handle the diaries.

For me personally scanning has been a really interesting act. Getting to actually pick up the diaries and flip through them. When I first started scanning this week it was also a little daunting realizing that what I was scanning and how I scanned it would be how the public viewed these diaries. It made me think more on how each scan looked and working to try and make sure that every page was as clear as I could get it and things were not as cut off. In the end though when I got to flip through the diaries and read what Gordon did on that particular day years ago it was such an awesome moment for me.

Since the project started I have also had an complicated and struggle filled relationship with Omeka. This has involved meetings with quite a few people and lots of testing out new ideas. It also included a short but spited battled with FileZilla that is now happily resolved. However I will save the full depths of the Omeka struggle for my presentation tomorrow.

Mapping Tools

I have worked with TimelineJS and StoryMap before for other classes as well as for my job. For Professor Moon’s Immigrant Alexandria course I created both a Story Map as well as a Google Map as a part of a group project.

This is an example of a Timeline JS I made for practice when I first learned how to use the tool.

Here is an example of a Story Map I made for the seminar with Professor Moon. I also have made quiet a few Google maps for other projects.

Since I had already played around with Story Map and Google maps for previous projects I tested out CartoDB. I used the data set from the site that gave an introduction to the program. I did not include a link for the map I made using the Dutch art research, because it was the sample practice tool and not something I independently created. Getting around the learning curve for the site, I think it is awesome how it takes data sets and makes them look so professional and easily interactive. When I had seen the maps by the Digital Scholarship Lab in our earlier class exploration I was so impressed with the interactive maps they had created. Knowing now that they used CartoDB, a tool accessible for me to use in future projects. 

As cool and interesting as the CartoDB maps were I felt that they probably would not work well for my groups site. We are not really dealing with datasets and our primary goal is digitization of the diaries, so collecting datasets possibly goes off course from our goal.

There is the potential that my group would use one of the mapping tools to represent the information from the diaries. This will be more clear once we go through the collection in the digitizing phase, and have a better understanding if we have solid information for a map. It is also possible that we could make a timeline, however I am unsure if that will flow with the way we decide to set up our site.

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.

Digital History on the Web

The way that Mapping the Republic of Letters was set up worked and was functional. However on their home sit I found it frustrating that their main image could not be zoomed in so that I could make sense of what it was or read the writing of it. The other frustrating point was that many of the links were out of date or nonfunctional in the publications section. The actual case studies though were incredibly interesting. Once I could get the map under the “visualization” button to work I was really impressed with how it plotted the data. Unfortunately my computer had a difficult time loading the visualizations.

I was impressed with the Digital Scholarship Lab’s different mapping projects. Each project was interactive and also presented the data in a cohesive manner. However on one of the projects when I tried to click into a video it immediately magnified to a point that made it unreadable on the screen.

The presentation of the Davis Diaries was an interesting set up. I think it worked well as a way to represent her original writing and the transcriptions. It was easy to navigate and presented a possible alternative way to display a digitized diary.

Digital History is interesting in how it displays many options within each content era without getting too over crowded. Some of the functions could be a tad confusing at first but overall the site was systematic in how it organized materials.

Map Scholar was another intriguing site to explore, mostly that I enjoyed. The only bad part is that when accessing the maps for a moment I thought that there was spam or advertisements on the right part of the screen, however they were actually just a list of resource links. Another issue was that some of the graphics were a tad jarring in their displays. Overall the tools were incredibly interesting.

From looking at these five websites I found that I had a more difficult discerning which platforms each of them ran. More then likely it was that I still do not know what lots of customized Omeka’s look like so I had trouble distinguishing them.

After going through these websites and others that were provided I tried to implement the task of creatively finding different uses for the tools we know. In the case of WordPress there are of course many options and uses that the platform offers. Businesses, communication networks, and research platforms are all potential uses for WordPress. In terms of Zotero I am having difficulty imaging how it operates outside of research and an individual or groups network. The curation of records by a group is as creative as I can currently envision for Zotero. In the case of Omeka, I also had issues trying to come up with creative ideas. I suppose that it could be used to organize visual works for artists or musicians looking for a way to “exhibit” their work in a new way.

Why HIST 428

My name is Callie Liberty. As a history major and digital studies minor I signed up for this class because it seemed to be a perfect combination of the two disciplines. I was really interested in taking this course because of the way it was described as integrating historical projects into the digital world. Digital projects and the ways in which history specifically is represented in a scholarly manner on web is a particular topic that I really enjoy. This course also had a great added benefit that I could potentially use it for a capstone for the digital studies minor.