Comparing Yelp Reviews of Lincoln’s Tomb: A print Project

To those who study the Civil War the man with possibly one of the biggest impacts on the country is none other than Abraham Lincoln. Assassinated at the end of the war, a nation looked to grieve by memorializing the man in a grand tomb in his home state of Illinois. That tomb, now called Lincoln’s Tomb, is the pride of the Prairie State. However, I have often wondered what do others think of the place, and this broad question has led me to devise an attempt at answering this idea.

Yelp page for Lincoln’s Tomb

Next, The best way to see what people think about a subject is to either ask them directly or to look at their reviews on sites. Since it is nearly impossible to track down all of these people and ask them directly about there experiences the reviews left on Yelp shall suffice. One reason that reviews are good benchmarks is that people took the time to leave reviews of the sight on their own time, and this often means that what is said can be counted on as an accurate description of how an individual interacted with a site. In addition, reviews on sites like Yelp allow people to leave their own “historical evidence” in the form of pictures and comments of their own experiences in their lives. In this way it is not too unlike a diary entry or something similar that reveals an insight to a person’s thought process.

First, the main question that I would be looking at is how do people feel about the Lincoln Tomb? The reason that I chose this question is that it then allows me to compare people’s lived experiences using a variety of factors. One thing that I will look at is the amount of stars left on reviews, both in a total capacity and on an individual basis if there are varying levels of reviews. This will allow for a scope to be established and for “categories” of reviews to be discerned. Second, I will compare who is leaving reviews if I am able to establish this criteria. In doing so a rough portrait of people can be sketched and a rough sample demographic shown.

Continuing on, the content of reviews would be compared amongst reviewers to establish what the overall mood is when looking at Lincoln’s Tomb. Did people have a good experience? Was it bad? Why? Was there anything about the surrounding area that contributed to their review? If so, why? These questions among others will help to highlight what people understood to be there experience of the site.

Finally, I wanted to return to the scope of the project briefly to set some limits. There are currently 93 total reviews of the site, and so this seems to be a big enough size for the project. Specific reviews will most likely be quoted in the print project to help establish certain ways that visitors to sites think, and to give a chance for the evidence to speak for itself. That is, for the reviewers to be heard through the comparisons to each other.

Introduction: Bryce Thomas

Hello everybody! My name is Bryce Thomas, and I am a first year graduate student pursuing my MA in Public History at American University. I was born and raised in the great State of Illinois, and it was there that I received my BA in history from the University of Illinois at Springfield. I now currently reside in Gaithersburg, MD and I hope to learn skills that will help me make history more engaging to the public.

All my life I have loved history, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I snapped out of my poly sci phase and realized that history is the field where I was meant to be. At present, I would love to go on to do historic interpretation as a character at a historic site, and I am open to finding the perfect site to do this. My hope is that I could inspire just one kid to follow there love of history just as I was inspired by people when I interned at Colonial Williamsburg in 2018. It was there that I realized that character interpretation had the potential to reach the public in ways that schools never could. And a pursuit of this path has led me to the wonderful program of public history at American university that I am a part of today.

If I had to narrow down one broad field of study that I am interested in I would say it is American colonial history from the years 1760-1800, but I am also interested in the period directly before these years. My other interests are legal, African-American, and political history just to name a few. One thing that I love about this program is that I am able to connect with people who bring unique experiences and interests to the field, and I am happy to say that the people I know in my program are some of the smartest, kindest, and hardworking people that I have ever had the pleasure of attending school with. I am proud that I will get to work in the field with each and every one of you.

When it comes to this class I must confess that I am not really good with technology, nor do I know much about it. One thing that I hope to get out this class is tools that I could use in the future that could make sites better as our world becomes more digital. Another thing I hope to learn is how has history already changed from the use of technology.