Absentee (Founding) Fathers – Herlihy Final Paper

In the process of writing this paper, I realized that digital tools provide a whole new avenue for historical interpretation that can and should be used in different forms of history outside of strictly “digital history.” One of my largest takeaways was the amount of times I was writing on a trend or an article I came across in my deep-dive into the Google n-gram and Time Magazine Corpus results that I thought “wow this would make a really really interesting standalone research project.” Some of those include the comparison between George Washington and Simon Bolivar which fluctuated widely in the late 20th century and what that says about ideals of freedom both in America and internationally, how presidents and figures like Abraham Lincoln become sanctified alongside the founding fathers despite living 50+ years after the American Revolution, how come we don’t care about John Adams anymore, and the creation of the phrase founding father and how that has changed since it originated in the 1920s. So, there is no limit to the amount of inspiration digital tools can provide to more traditional academic history. This process made me think about how digital tools can also be used to examine very small or specific historical eras, as they reveal so much information that it can be overwhelming to think about broad trends without something small and concrete. We talked a bit about macroanalysis in class, and I understood that to mean looking at national or international trends on a huge scale. However, something I learned from this project is that the more narrow you can make the field for macroanalysis, the easier it is to make sense of your results. Both large scale and small scale macroanalysis have their place in historical analysis, but using macroanalysis for smaller projects was not something I came into this project thinking about and I am glad I got to explore the tools that Google n-gram and the Time Magazine Corpus have to offer.

As an aside, one of the most annoying things about this process, I will say, is the fact that after every few searches on the Time Magazine Corpus they would ask for money or for me to register for an account, which was incredibly frustrating when I would try to search for multiple figures in a row. There were also so many different cool features I didn’t get to mess around with for the sake of keeping the project manageable and to create valid point of comparison for Google n-gram and the Time Magazine Corpus, which I hope to be able to play with on future projects.


Absentee Founding Fathers – Herlihy Digital History Project


Digital History Project Draft – Kristin Herlihy

This print project studies Google n-gram and Time Magazine Corpus trends of when key figures in American history and terms (ie freedom, independence, Constitution) were mentioned most frequently, revealing spikes during wartime and domestic disruption. The trends indicate, for the most part, a correlation between American values and historic figures, with the exception of the 1960s and 70s. A close reading of the 20th century reveals the context of the primary source documents and how historic figures and values were discussed and how they changed.

In writing this paper, I included classic founding fathers like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, but I also included figures from later in history like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and the two Roosevelts. The time frame also ranges from the 1800s until the early 2000s, so I wonder if this is too broad of frame. Would the project be better off cutting the requirement for people searched to only founding fathers and beginning the study in the 20th century?

If you are interested in reading the draft, below is a shareable link from the Google Drive to access the PDF. If you have trouble accessing it, let me know!



Mall History and ARIS Games

Mall History

Histories on the National Mall is a website that does exactly what the title would suggest – it provides a comprehensive history of the National Mall. This includes a timeline of events related to the Mall, people involved with designing and making the Mall and its monuments, events such as scavenger hunts around the Mall complete with historical articles attached, and what we’re here to talk about, a map of all the monuments and history on the Mall. If your digital project includes a mapping component, I would highly recommend looking at the site.

The map section of the website allows you to use different filters to experience the Mall in different time periods through various sources. Without any filters, there are 345 different monuments, sites, papers, audio, and visual pieces of Mall history to choose from, each with a piece historical scholarship attached to explain the pin.

If you’re interested in narrowing down what you want to see on the Mall, click the lines with circles on them at the top of the image above, which will let you choose what era you’d like to search in and what type of item you want, including events, places, and monuments. That presents you with even more specific filters to narrow down your search results, my favorite being the option to look for places that ghosts have been sighted. This is an excellent example of how history can be digitized and condensed down for people curious about the mall to learn more. As a lover of maps, I think this is a great tool for tourists and residents of the city to piece together the city’s history and to do research on sites off of the beaten track.

Scavenger Hunts, Timelines, and Articles, Oh My!
Histories on the Mall also includes more information than just the maps. The site has scavenger hunts at specific monuments and sites, like the Smithsonian Castle, which has close-up photos of places in the location for participants to find on the hunt, giving people fun ways to engage with the monuments once they get there. It also includes a timeline of the history of how the Mall was developed and articles briefly answering questions people might have, like “were there alternate designs to the Lincoln Memorial.” The search feature on the site also provides a list of articles, historical context, and the locations on the map for the search results, which is a great tool for research! This combination of historical research and tools for people to explore the city and its history makes for an aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable, and educational web experience.

ARIS Games

ARIS Games is an online tool and app that anyone can use to create tours, games, or stories based off of a real map. ARIS games, which stands for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling Engine seems pretty cool, but has its share of glitches. It’s from the Field Day Lab at the University of Wisconsin and consists of web programming to make a game or a tour and then lets people on the app use the tours and games you create. On the app, if you can get it to work for more than 30 seconds, you can also view popular games and tours made near you. The product is free, but it sounds like if you get over 100 views/players monthly on your project, you can pay to get ARIS to provide additional product support.
*I had problems with my phone crashing every time I tried to open the app, see below for the fun adventures I had.

Making a Game or Tour
To start anything, you first have to create an account. Once registered, you then have to click “new game,” even if you’re creating a tour. There are different types of interactive tools you can create for the audience including:

Plaque: an object in the game that provides the viewer with information, which can be text, images, or videos
Trigger: game settings that allow players to access objects (can be something simple like opening the game or a GPS location)
Conversation: interactive ordering of text and media. This can mean actually creating a conversation between the user and the person you create by creating options for the user to choose in the conversation.

To create anything, you start with a blank screen and a tool that says “starting scene” which is basically the introductory screen for the tour or game.

On the left side of the screen here, you can see I have already created a Conversation titled Welcome and a Plaque called Introduction. To add these to the starting scene, you hit the little plus button. This tool also allows you to link webpages to the scene. To create other conversations, plaques, characters, etc, you can hit the little plus button next to them on the left side of the screen, which will then allow you to add them to the scene in the middle.

The Locations tool, which is located at the top of the screen, allows you to drag the character you are using, or the item, to the location you want. This can either be set to trigger when the person using the app is at the actual location on the map, or by clicking on the link. I couldn’t get this feature to work for me in terms of setting a location for a character, but according to the Field Lab Tutorials, which are actually extremely helpful, this is how it should work. You can change the location of characters and triggers for plaques and conversations. This could be an extremely useful tool to use on a tour project, as it could be set to trigger when the mobile device gets near to a point you want to discuss, especially considering some spots might be easy to miss.

Creating new scenes will allow you to create different interactives for each spot on your tour or your game.

Clicking on either the Nearby, Popular, or Recent tabs will take you to tours or games that meet that description, as you can see from the image below, there are a wide variety of uses for the program.

(This is as far as my poor phone got)

Once I clicked on a tour to explore, my app kept crashing so I didn’t get to see what the finished product looked like. After trying to open the app on multiple other devices, I gave up. After reading other reviews online, it seems like this app needs serious revision, although it does represent a cool intersection of mapping, tours, and gaming. It’s potential is to provide users with a series of tours, presented as quests, that would tie history to the location around the user through mobile interfacing. I hope that it sorts out the bugs eventually, because I do love the idea. (side note, this is also the reason the post is late. For some reason I thought maybe my phone might sort itself out if I left it alone and turned it off. Turns out that doesn’t do anything for computers)

What do you think? Would it be worth updating the ARIS Games system to work, or have other apps and web programs proven more useful?

What can we learn about apps vs. websites from these projects?

Whether or not you’re doing a mapping project, do you think you could learn anything from these sites? How do they reflect the field of digital history, or better yet, public/digital history?

Digital vs. Physical: the Ultimate Showdown

So what is a digital archive?
Before there were digital archives there were physical archives, both of which exist today. However, as we’ve seen, there are huge differences, but also similarities, between traditional archives and digital archives. Traditional archives and the transition towards digital archives are best explained in Owens, Theimer and Bailey’s articles.

Traditional archives are defined by Kate Theimer as inclusive of provenance, a unified collection (aggregate), and being kept in their original context. Examples of this include records management, the papers of well-known figures, i.e. George Washington, and tape archives (see Owens). Theimer pushes back against calling online collections “archives” because they do not keep to the same values as traditional physical archives. However, the concept of what counts as an archive becomes more complicated once you introduce born-digital items, or records created and stored digitally, creating the need for digital archives. Just as digital history is not simply history on the computer, neither are digital archives just archival records online.

So then what is a digital archive?
In Bailey’s article he discusses how archival practices have changed to suit the needs, both political and practical, of archivists, and pushes for a change in how archives are conceived of in the digital world. Many of the practices that archivists use for physical archives are unnecessary for digital ones. Original order and provenance, as Theimer would agree, are cornerstones of archival management, but this information is stored in the data records of files online, making the organization of archival information in this order unnecessary. Through digital archives, access to each item is not dependent on its original collection or provenance, making physical archival practices impractical for a digital archive.

It is important to note the difference between a web archive and a digital archive. A website never starts out as an archive, but becomes an archive over time by preserving its data. The practicums being looked at this week showcase the diversity of the term ‘digital archive,’ as defined by Owens. The September 11th archive is a crowdsourced collection of materials related to the incidents of 9/11. The Bracero archive is a digitized collection of oral history interviews. The Shelley-Goodwin archive is a digitized collection of primary source materials. The diversity of these sites (as you will read about in our cohort’s blog posts) highlights the strengths and differences of digital archives.

In Jerome McGann’s “the Rationale of HyperText”, he discusses the process of digitizing books. Would this be considered a digital archive? Why or why not?

What processes of digital history do you see used in digital archives, as explored by these authors? (Close reading, as discussed in Meg Philips’ “Close Reading, Distant Reading: Should Archival Appraisal Adjust” is a great place to start)

How do physical and digital archives differ? Can physical archives adapt to become digital archives? Will physical archives ever become obsolete?

Digital Project Proposal – A Tweet a Week Keeps the…History Doctor Away?

The digital project I propose is a series of blog posts which will expand on tweets that share historical facts with followers. When applicable, each blog post will be linked to a pin on historypin to help geographically locate the event or person within the context of the city and other history. Tweets will be a short, sentence or two long summary of an interesting story in diverse fields of history to interest a variety of people. This is inspired by some of the “this day in history” tweets, but it will provide more information and a works cited in the form of a blog post that will allow for more historically accurate facts and will provide more context for readers who are interested. There will be one a week for year, totaling 52 tweets accompanied by a blog post and history pin when relevant to the subject. For the first month or two, depending on how quickly it begins to get comments, topics will be chosen by me, then afterwards I will take recommendations and requests on topics for further study from blog comments and tweets, hopefully engaging the public and encouraging more people to think about history and feel involved in the process. This will allow the process to cover a variety of topics as chosen by the audience and will interest them, as they were the ones to recommend and vote on the subjects. Potential topics can included, but are not limited to, the history of the Second Amendment in America, the Magna Carta of 1215 in England, or book reviews of certain historical texts. All work will be under 800 words in order to keep the audiences’ attention and limit the information to the most relevant content.

I hope that through luring visitors in through sites like Twitter this project can appeal to people who know very little about history and will learn through the blog. It can also attract people who are already interested in history because it enables people who are interested to comment or request more information on a specific topic. It can also encourage people to read history that has documented sources and explore digital tools like historypin by introducing them to those aspects of history using an area they are already interested in.

This project will be finished once it reaches 52 posts, but it could be continued by someone else should there be enough demand, interest, and time to extend the project, but for all intents and purposes it will be done and finished at 52. In terms of evaluation, the project can be judged based on if posts get responses or views using functions on twitter that track views. While views may not be enough to judge whether or not people actually engage with the information beyond the blog, it will still show that they read the bare minimum amount of information.