I really do like the idea of visualizing data, but I have to admit I’ve typically used it to illustrate a point I’m making in the text rather than as a research tool. And my charts have always been fairly simple (like this one I made in Excel, based on hospital records listing impressed slaves treated in Richmond, Virginia, in the second half of 1862). Ironically, when I tried to use the data underlying this very simple graph in ViewShare, I couldn’t get it to work — the program kept unlinking information I needed to remain together. I suppose I would need to format the source table differently.
Rather than spending a lot of time redoing something that’s already done and published, I figured I would look at something new. So I extracted all of the records listing individual slaveholders from the 1850 census spreadsheet I have for Wilmington, North Carolina, and then created a scatter plot that compares real estate holdings with slave holdings in the city. Click on “scatterplot” below to show the chart. If you hover over each square, you’ll see the specific numbers it represents. Click on the square, and you’ll get information about the slaveholder — name, age, occupation, etc. I’m not sure what this shows me yet, but it might be a way to start locating trends, especially if I do the same thing with the 1860 census.
Test post from ViewShare:
Having a little trouble figuring out how to put things on Omeka, or really what I’d want to put there. I guess I’m not far enough on this project to have much in the way of content. I did play around with ThingLink a little more, and I took the jpeg of this 1882 map of Wilmington, NC (which I saved from North Carolina Maps purely as something to scribble on as I worked with one of my students), and noted the home locations of a few of the city’s slaveholders in 1860, as well as their occupations and the size of their households.
Since my first book was published just a few months ago, I haven’t made much progress toward a second project at this point. Originally, my plan was to write something about wartime slavery. With limited time and resources for research travel, proximity matters, so I was going to start with Wilmington, North Carolina, and then see if I wanted to expand the project. A few weeks ago, however, I was invited to edit a new ABC-Clio encyclopedia on the antebellum era, and I’ve decided to give that a try. But it will mean putting the Wilmington project on the back burner for the next 18 months. I don’t want to give it up entirely, though, in part because three fantastic students in my department have put a lot of effort into gathering 1860 census data and cross-referencing the population and slaveholding schedules with a city directory. I’d like to at least get a basic version of the map together because I know they’d like to see it. I would really also like to incorporate some digital history assignments into the undergraduate methods course I’ll be teaching in Spring 2015, so I wonder if there’s some way I can bring those two things together. Has anyone done small-scale digital history projects with students in this context?