Asian American Voting History

Documentary First Vote tells the stories of four Chinese-Americans who voted for the first time after gaining citizenship in the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterms. It tracks each person’s stories and perspectives on the political spectrum. I was very curious about Asian American’s political participation and their voting history after seeing discussions of the documentary.

Asian American voters are a small yet rapidly growing group in recent American elections, and consequently have a smaller voting history than most minority groups in the United States. It is not until WWII that the restriction on Asian descendants to become citizens began to be lifted. By 1952, most Asian immigrants became US citizens and gained the right to vote.

For my digital project, I plan on creating a website showcasing important trends and statistics in the voting history of Asian Americans. I wanted to use different visualization tools, such as Flourish and Tableau, to demonstrate various data collected from Asian American community voting. I wanted to make graphics on important moments in Asian American voting history, such as the amount of time it took them to be able to vote, statistics on how groups of Asian American voted and why they chose certain candidates, and the overall percentage of Asian Americans who vote in every presidential year since the 1940s. Graphics would also feature prominent Asian American political figures who were voted in. I am also interested in outside influences that affect voting patterns, such as immigration flow.       

The availability of accessible data is an important factor. I initially wanted to conduct research on voting records from the 1950s to the present. However, I found out that most of the records that contain information on Asian American voters have only started since 1992. Before 1992, the percentage of Asian American voters to the whole voter population in the US was below 1 %. According to the Roper Center at Cornell University, from 1992 to 1996, the percentage of Asian American voters increased to 1%, from 2000 to 2008 the rate increased to 2%, 3% in 2012, and 4% from 2016 to 2020. In recent years, more studies and standardized exit polls have made great strides in piecing together modern Asian American participation in elections. For example, AAPI Data collaborated with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Asian and Pacific Islander Vote organizations to release several reports on voter surveys from the recent presidential elections, focusing more specifically on the gender, ethnicity, age, and location of Asian American voters. I will be using data visualization on voting data after the 1990s and use other methods, such as infographics, to present voting history from the 1950s through the 1990s. Election exit polls from the Roper Center, The New York Times, Edison Research, and the survey from the AAPI Data are planned to be used in my research. 

Source: 

Asian and Pacific Islander Vote https://www.apiavote.org/

AAPI Data https://aapidata.com/

Asian Americans Advancing Justice https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/

Roper Center https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/how_groups_voted 

Edison Research https://www.edisonresearch.com/

The New York Times Exit Polls https://www.nytimes.com/elections/2010/results/house/exit-polls.html

HistoryTube: The YouTube Trend of History Through Reenactment

History reenactment has always been an interactive and engaging way for museums and historic sites to educate the visitors. I also notice that over the years there is a growing trend of reenactment video channels on Youtube. For my print project, I’m interested in analyzing the history channels on Youtube, specifically on the channels that use history reenactment as their main vehicle to present history. I plan to look into several Youtube Channels, such as Drunk History and CrowsEyeProductions.

Drunk History is an educational comedy series where a historical event was recounted by a drunk narrator and reenacted in each episode. Drunk History was aired in 2013 and continued for six seasons until 2020. The series recreated some of the most famous nationals historical events including the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment. The series also highlighted some of the lesser-known stories, such as Oney Judge, an African American women enslaved by the Washington family, who became the subject of an intense manhunt after she escaped from the family, or Nellie Bly, an American journalist who exposed the condition of the mental health institution in the 1880s and prompted the asylum reform by faking insanity to enter the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island and record what she saw. The series took on a fresh spin on history storytelling, it used comedy to draw the audience’s attention while recounting a historical event. The historic accuracy of the series remained a point of concern for many history channels on Youtube. The content of Drunk History was also explored and examined by several independent newspapers. There have not been any major disputes on the stories told in the series. However, it is clear that the reenactment element and the character dialogues of the series are only intended to serve as comedy and are not historically accurate. 

Season 4 Episode 6 “Kpop Sisters”

Different from Drunk History, The Crows Eye Productions tries to make the historical reenactment as realistic as possible. The channel has a series titled “Getting Dressed in…” where each episode would show how it was like to get dressed in a historic period. The channel started in 2007, has 342K subscribers, and has produced 28 “Getting Dressed in …” videos and many other history reenactment videos. In some videos, there are only music backgrounds, the actors would reenact the scene without any narration. In more recent videos on the channel, more videos show the reenactments being narrated and the audience is given a historical background of the period and places the video is based on and detailed descriptions of the clothing used in the video. The time period range of these videos is very wide, with the earliest time in the 14th century to the 1960s. The Crows Eye Productions channel mainly focuses on fashion and clothing in history, although it also expanded its production to create series such as “Walk with me through time”, featuring videos set in different time periods with the narration of extract from literature in the time period. 

From video “Getting dressed in the 18th century”

I am very curious to examine how these platforms communicate and engage with their audience using history reenactment? How is the audience’s reaction towards these approaches? How historically accurate are these contents? Could these platforms reach a broader audience compared to traditional history television channels? I have also come across many other similar channels that are involved with history reenactments, such as Townsends, a channel that focused on the 18th Century lifestyle, English Heritage, and WWII History and Reenacting. Depending on the research of these two channels, I am open to including more channels in the project.

Projects as a Scholarly Genre: Readings 4-6

The first three readings of this week explore the project creation process of Digital Humanities. Readings 4 to 6 dive more into the specific products of Digital Humanities and its issues, such as Omeka platform and what it means to be “done” in a Digital Humanities project. 

Tom Scheinfeldt, who is an associate professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Connecticut, discussed in Omeka and Its Peers the existing types of Collections Management Systems and Content Management Systems used by collections professionals and interpretive professionals, and where Omeka falls in the landscape of these toolsets. Scheinfeldt argues that there is no alternative product like Omeka. Unique from many of the products on the market, Omeka provides its users the functions of both “back of the house” and “front of the house”. These mean that Omeka has the professional tools for digital collection and management systems “in the back”, and it provides the design-driven interactive content “in the front”. As Claire walked us through in her blog, you can start an Omeka site from the ground up by building collections and designing exhibition content. With Omeka initially realized in 2008, and the article written in 2010, Omeka was still a relatively new system. Therefore, I was very curious about the progress that had been made to the platform itself and what new products have been developed a decade later. According to Omeka’s website, the Omeka team launched Omeka S in 2017. The new version is designed for larger institutional users. At the same time, the original version, Omeka Classic, continues to exist and is being developed alongside the newer version. The collaboration of disciplines is one of the key components of the Digital Humanities. Scheinfeldt points out that one great benefit of Omeka’s combination of functionality is that it draws librarians, archivists, museum professionals, and scholars together. Through working on the platform, connections and communication between these fields could be enhanced. Do you think all museums and libraries should aim to transition to a platform like Omeka that combines both the collection and presentation functions?

The next article is from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Created in 1965, the NEH is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the US. Its Office of Digital Humanities offers grants annually to organizations with innovative and experimental digital projects that encourage professional collaboration and public engagement in the humanities. The Digital Humanities Advanced Grants 2021 outline and the list of past example projects give us a better sense of the recent advancement of the Digital Humanities field today. I specifically looked at a project from the University of Virginia entitled The Development of Digital Documentary Editing Platforms. The project proposed that in order to create an all-inclusive digital platform for all aspects of editorial work from document collection to digital publication, it is essential that we possess content expertise and familiarity with documents themselves. Therefore, the project aimed to bring technical experts and editors from two existing technologies, Omeka and Drupal, in an attempt to build a groundwork of collaboration. Together, they reviewed the current use of the platforms and discussed the use and development of future platforms in creating and publishing digital documentary editions. What is your observation of the successful Grant applicant projects?

In the last article, Done: Finishing Projects in the Digital Humanities, Kirschenbaum raised an important question regarding the work involved with Digital Humanities: “How do we know when we are done?” The quality of innovation and extensibility of Digital Humanities makes it harder for people to define the “completeness” of a project. Kirschenbaum makes mention of the culture of the “demo” in the US, using the example of Digital Humanities start-up grants and their focus on innovation and experimentation of the projects, instead of “steady, measured progress”. This tendency is shared in the NEH grants where it emphasizes the value of innovation in projects and clearly stated that the grants cannot support “regular, ongoing maintenance of existing projects.” Do you think that a Digital Humanities project should have a definite endpoint or is the quality of open-ended and extensibility a valuable asset of the Digital Humanities? What do you think is the measurement of completeness? Does the development of newer versions of Omeka count as a sign of a never-ending project?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Wednesday!

Mengshu’s Introduction

Hello everyone!

My name is Mengshu Ye, and I’m a first year graduate student in the Public History program. I graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2020, majoring in History and Asian and Asian American Studies. I am from Changchun, China. I moved to the US five years ago to start my undergraduate studies; my research interests include women’s history, Asian American history, and immigrant history.

I am looking forward to exploring different digital tools and learn how they influence the way historians communicating history. I am especially interested in the topics of Digital Analysis and Visualization, and Digital Exhibition. This is something I haven’t explored before in my studies and I am excited to learn another branch of documenting history. I hope that by understanding how new media is integral in preserving and interpreting historical documentation and objects, I can use these tools in the future when I want to present history in a thorough manner.