Digital History Project Draft – Where Is Dorsey Foultz?

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been working on a custom Google Map representing the (supposed) movement of Dorsey Foultz between 1897 and 1911.

Here is an image of what the map looks like fully zoomed out (note that this view effectively hides the earliest sightings):

Sightings that occurred in 1897 I labeled in blue, magenta represents those from 1898-1905, and green from 1906-1911. Color-coding in this way helps show increasing geographic distance over time and, I think, really demonstrates the way Americans thought about movement in this period.

While Google My Maps has a lot of wonderful icons to use, I had to stick with the single missing person one (other than the scene of the murder). I quickly realized that sightings were so varied that assigning them different icons–police for when police responded, a train for a sighting on a train, etc.–would create a lot of isolated icons that would not have much meaning in the grand scheme of things. If I had significantly more data to plot with more uniformity that allowed classification of sightings, the various icons would have been really useful.

The project also changed slightly from what I envisioned in that it is less possible to link to or provide images of the primary sources used to plot the sightings due to copyright concerns. In a few instances, I was able to include Library of Congress images or maps, or select drawings from the newspapers. Otherwise, I have had to settle for plain citations of my newspaper sources. Also, many sightings that are mentioned in passing in the Washington Post and Washington Evening Star articles lack enough evidence to plot on the map, but in the future could appear there if other newspapers that I have not yet incorporated into my research provide information on these supposed events.

Overall I am happy with this project, which I consider complete, since it seems user-friendly (let me know if it’s not!) and visually demonstrates what I was hoping it would. But more on that to come in a couple weeks…

One Reply to “Digital History Project Draft – Where Is Dorsey Foultz?”

  1. Great to see how this project is come together! I like the way you have used color to visualize the temporal change that you are mapping. It’s also neat to see that you’re using lines in the map too. There is more to the possibilities of digital mapping than pins and you’re illustrating that.

    All in all the design decisions you have made make a lot of sense and I think what you have built here would be generally useful and interesting. Beyond that, if you did go ahead and develop a research project exploring the history of Foultz I think something like this would be a great ancillary resource to accompany that piece of writing. I imagine that the work you put into mapping all of this out likely also gave you new and additional insights into how you would go about telling that story if you did decide to delve into writing that history in the future.

    Overall, great work!

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