Reflection On Final Project

Since the beginning of HUMN 100 class, we have used a bunch of digital humanity tools to study the diary of the journey of Payne and Froehlich. We have done the work that starts from distant reading and ends to close reading. The work we have done on this diary is like a tree that Omeka and Juxta Edition are the most basic things of the work just like tree trunk and Oxygen, Timeglider, Time Mapper,  GIS and Gephi are all very detail and all presents different aspects of the diary, just like branches.

Spiderscribe of work assigning
Spiderscribe of work assigning

Since we have done a lot of work on this diary, we decided, at the end of the class, to make a website presenting the work we have done through the whole semester to people outside our class, including humanists and people who are not in this area. Therefore, we decided to go over most  of the work we have done in this class and divide it into different work to everyone in our class.  My job in this final project was to put original archive on Omeka and do the proofread of the transcription we did in early time of this semester on Juxta Edition.

omeka provides a simple description for the diary and categorizes it into group called shamokin diary
omeka provides a simple description for the diary and categorizes it into group called shamokin diary

The job I got was crucial to the job we have done since they were quite fundamental in all the work we have done. The first step is to put original archive on Omeka. I have two choices: either to put all the images of the archives into one item or to put each pages into different items. At first I tried the first one, thinking it would be more convenient for viewers to find out all the pages of the diaries if I put them together. However, there were some problems if I chose this. The first thing is that, once I put them all in one item and I submit them, they just appear in random order, for example, the first page follows the third page and the last page follows the second one. Therefore I decided to change the name of the images so that viewers will know which page they are reading. However, I found it would take a lot of time to find out the right page and it is inconvenient since every pages look similar and it is easy to mess up. Therefore, I decided to put image of page on Omeka separately which means I put one page into one item. I searched out the item with all the pages we transcribed from Omeka and added something on it based on my previous experience on Omeka. I added description, which is manuscript, language, which is English and type, which is journal. The information gives viewer a deeper understanding of the work the first time they see it.

Showing how Juxta edition present transcribed documents
Showing how Juxta edition present transcribed documents

The second step is doing proofread of the transcription we have done on Juxta Edition. The rule of the thumb of this work is to make sure the transcription work is as similar as possible to the original archive.  However, such goal is hard to reach, since once we transcribe, we lose something, for example, calligraphy, the material of paper, the fringe of the text and different shades of color of the text. I used as much as I could use on the Juxta Edition to make sure not only we had the same spelling of the word in the transcription work with the original archive but also similar format of the text with the original one. I fond some mistakes we transcribed in spelling word: some are misreading and some are just typo. Also, we made some problem in format, and the most common one is that some of us choose to ignore the writing deleted by the author in the original transcription. So I added them on the transcription. I could not recognize some of the words Payne deleted and I counted how many letter Payne deleted and replaced them with “x”. I also use the “delete” format in Juxta Edition for these “x”s.

The work we have done this semester gives us basic understanding of digital humanity study. At the beginning of this semester, I was very confused about the work we would do. However, as we did more and more work on Payne and Froehlich’s diary, their journey became clearer and clearer to us. The work was becoming more and more detailed as we using different digital humanities tools. We started from transcribing the original document, which enabled us to read. Then, the work of XML helped us to extract the names, places and time and other traits from the text. We put them on time glider to extract the important events connected to places, people and time. Then, we explored more detail of this study—Gephi: explore the relationship between people. At last, we used GIS  to make story maps. This work is quite different from the work we have done before, in which we just focused on the diary itself. However, GIS helped us to  extend our study— we not only has the route of Payne and Froehlich’s journey, but also different map layers, which brought different events or aspects that happened in the same period together. By putting different layers together, we can learn about something that we can not know by simply reading the diary, for example, how did Payne and Froehlich picked up their route. The final project not only gave us a chance to present our work that we have done in the whole semester, but also enabled us to review what we have learned before.

I always believe that subjects are always connected with each other, and they are not as separated as we think. This project helped me to identify this idea: in my geography class, our professor introduced it but we did not have a chance to use it. However, in this class, we learned how to use it, which helped me to gain a deeper understanding of GIS. Also, the digital humanities tools we learned in this class improved my understanding in geography class and art history class.

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Mapping the Payne and Froehlich’s Journey

The work of mapping the travel route of Payne and Froehlich with GIS is a work of close reading. One feature of GIS, which is different from the digital humanity techniques we had before, is that GIS provides variant data. These data are not only from the the travel of Payne and Froehlich but also from other historical events and characteristics of the region, such as the plantations, the Native American paths and the slave density. As Bodenhamer says “We see space as the platform for multiplicity, a realm where all perspectives are particular and dependent upon experiences unique to an individual, a community, or a period of time.” (The Spatial Humanities Bodenhamer)These data shows different aspects of the same area, by which we can explore its history and the interconnection of different events. The data provided through GIS play important roles in exploring deeply the travel route of Payne and Froehlich.

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When we are mapping the travel route of Payne and Froehlich’s journey and comparing it with the data from other events in this area, we can easily figure out how Payne and Froehlich plan their route. The purpose of the travel of  the Moravians is to preach their religion to the slaves—to let them know God, and how God loves them. Therefore, I put the “slaves-1800” layer on the GIS map. GIS “manages large data sets” of slave density and “visualize the results of spatial analysis” (The Spatial Humanities Bodenhamer)by dividing places into regions with borders of different densities. It shows that the travel route follows a trend that starts from the place with low density of slaves to the place with high density of slaves. Also, the amount of colonial plantations follows the slave density—the higher the density of slaves, the more plantations in the place. There are several times that Payne mentions in the diary that they see the justice and see the slaves and the places they see the slaves are near or at the plantation. The GIS map also shows that part of their journey follows the Native American path. By GIS mapping, I also find out that the average distance they travel each day is 20 miles. When mapping their route, I find out more information than by simply read the diary. From the reading, we know the purpose of the journey, but we do not know how they choose their path, and why they choose one place instead of another. The article mentioned that they finally stopped at Justice Coff’s place and go back, which means if people were not against their plan at justice Warren’s place, they could have continued their journey. So, by exploring the plantation places in the map, I find out some potential “targets” for Payne and Froehlich—one route towards The Anchorage plantation or another route towards White House plantation in New Kent. When I am creating my storymap, I focus on how they choose their route and what could influence their journey. Just as I mentioned before, their preference follows the slave density and the plantations. Also, people, including the Justices, have important influence on their decisions. At first, for example, one Justice is against their plan which caused them to be more eager to complete their mission, and later Justice Warren stopped them from continuing their journey.

“Its unparalleled ability to manage and visualize data within a spatial context has led to a rediscovery of the power of map.”(The Spatial Humanities Bodenhamer). GIS map puts informations from different resources in a map, helping us to explore different events and characteristics at the same time. By doing this, we can find out the connection between these events and have deep understanding of the region.

story map

Close reading and Prosopography

Recently, we learned how to use different kinds of digital humanities methods to transcribe and study diaries produced hundreds of years ago. By doing distant reading, we had a rough understanding of author’s purpose and destination. In order to have a better and more precise understanding of the diary, we did close reading by tagging words with Juxta edition and Oxygen. Close reading helps us learn more details, such as the route, the people they met and the events on their way to their destination. We even learned about the relationship between places and people, places and time and events and places.xml

Compared to Juxta edition, by which we could only roughly tag people, place and time, Oxygen enabled us to tag more, such as emotions and objects. It even had a more detailed classification, for example, it separate tag “name” into two parts—“persName” and “roleName”. It also distinguishes “time” from date, which would be more convenient when readers want to find specific date from tremendous database. When I was tagging the words in Oxygen, I was confused since there are too much information to decide which word to tag and which word not to. This recalled me of Elena Pierazzo’s idea of diplomatic edition—there are infinite facts in the work we are going to edit so that we need to have a selection among these facts. The selection should, as Elena said, “aspires to equal the object to be studied.” But, “be simpler than the object it models”. Therefore, I prefer to tag information about where, when, who, what, what happen how it looks like and how people feel about it.

I did lose something from the original pages during the transcription procedure. But as Elena said that transcription was “not a mechanically complete record of what is on the page.” –making tags to emphasize some parts from the diary and correcting the misspelling the author made from the original pages. What I did in my transcription procedure made information from the diary clearer and easier to read.

pageWhen I was designing the web, I did not change the color of background and most words, since it fit to most people’s reading habit. But I chose to made “placeName” bold, italic and red, and “persName” bold and blue. Different colors made them eye-appeal and I think place and people are two main parts in the diary. I also change the color of “characteristic” into green so that we can easily figure out people’s feeling about the events or the objects.


As Grafton said “graphic representation is among our most important tools for organizing information.” (Grafton, p. 10), time maps and timelines are quite helpful for the study of history. These tools for organizing historical events match “our mental furniture” (Grafton, p. 10) which shows our favor on visual forms. Chronology organizes information in a pattern. It is always with time and events in order or images with time on it.

we can explore the relationship among different events by divide them by time or by space with the help of timeline or the map.

As technology developed, we now have computers with more advanced chronological tools. Timemapper, for example, turns time and location in the information into visual images. Instead of using chart, we put events on a straight line in time order, which can better show more specific time sequence and time distance between each other. We can also trace the event to the map, by which we can find the space distance between different events. By comparing events happened in different time and space, we can find out more things that have not mentioned in the texts—the hidden relationship of different events. By finding similarities of time and space and events, which can be easily seen on Timemapper, we can connect different events and tell a story—an event can be the cause of the next event or the effect of an earlier event.

“The timeline offered a new way of visualizing history” (Grafton , p. 20), Timeglider gives a good example for this. Timeglider compacts pages of gliderinformation into short titles in order which would be more clear and easier to understand. It is interesting that it organizes titles into “stairs” in order. In Payne’s Travel Journal, for example, we can figure out the route Payne and his partners traveled. We can also figure out the time they spend on different place simplely by seeing different distance between different titles. Titles that are close to the same vertical line show that Payne and his partners arrived in one place and quickly moved to another. Knowing this can help us find out the place where they spent more time staying in and that place would probably be an important place in which important events happened.

On Distant Reading

Humanists always spend too much time on exploring useful information from tremendous humanity database. The theme of the book, the intentions of authors and the subtle evidence of the contemporary lives, culture and thoughts are all hidden in hundreds of pages, or even more, of humanity materials. However, nowadays, humanity exploration no longer consumes as much time as we had before. The distant reading method can help readers to compact hundreds of pages into simple visual images. Such images can not only help readers find what the author focus on, but also can help readers find the relationship between different terms. To better understand the distant reading method, I will use DH method to explore the question “what are the major groups of people Payne and Froehlich met” from the full compiled transcription of the Payne/Froehlich Travel Journal.

The picture on the right is cirrus which creates a word cloud in which the more1 frequently the word appear, the bigger the word.  By finding the large words, we can easily find out what the author mentioned most. Therefore,  to find who did Payne and Froehlich meet, we can simply find the large words of people’s name or people’s group. For example, the words “negroes” and “ brother” are large which suggests that negroes and brothers would be people Payne and Froehlich always care or meet.

To find the relationship among different people, Links would be a good choice. 2When I find the names of people, I clicked the names, and the links increased. It shows that “we” and “negroes” are linked together, which indicates an interaction between Payne and Froehlich and negroes. Also, the the Links shows no interaction between brother, children and negroes but an interaction between brother, children and Payne and Froehlich.

Bubblelines shows the relative locations of different words in the text. I put some3 of the names that I found form the cirrus into bubblelines. I find out that most “brother” and “children” spread at the front of the article and negroes spread from the middle to the end, which provides evidence that during their journey, Payne and Froehlich first pay a lot more attention on brother and children. Later, they pay more attention on negroes.

On Material and Digital Archives

Digital artifacts from archival documents really benefit scholars a lot. By making digital artifacts, tremendous data are carefully categorized, which enables people to find the data they need by simply searching the key word instead of picking up the data from libraries that contain tons of data. For example, in Lincoln at 200, facts about Lincoln and his activities are carefully divided into different parts so that readers can easily study Lincoln.the perfect integration of image and context

Many archival documents are the only existing copies. If they are damaged or lost, we can hardly find ones that contain the same things with the one ruined. By making digital artifacts, these archival documents are never lost and people can read them at the same time instead of going to different places, even countries, to find useful materials.

However, there are also some disadvantages in digital artifacts. Reading an archival document is different from reading a digital artifact from the internet. An archival document can help us build up a strong emotional link with what we are reading, but digital artifact cannot. During the winter break, I went to a museum in which I saw some beautiful porcelains and I made some pictures for them. But when I went back and see these porcelains. I could not experience the feeling that I had when I was in the museum.

The exhibit I create is Moravian journals. When I create my own exhibit, what challenges most is that there are several pages of journals. All of them are Moravian journals. But some of them have different route and some of them are created at different time. The scribbled note is also a problem for me, they are hard to read.Moravian Journal · Stories of the Susquehanna Valley

Analysis of Virtual Paul’s Cross Project

The digital humanities program “Virtual Paul’s Cross Project” intends to recreate a scene to allow us to experience a Paul’s Cross sermon that happens on Tuesday, November 5th, 1622. In order to present it, the researchers provide not only the physical environment model of the church but also the acoustic model of the churchyard through audio analysis and visualization.

The researchers analyze different aspect of the church site, such as the churchyard, the preacher and his preaching style, the weather, the size of crowd and even the acoustics. The history evidences are collected from paintings and maps, which depict the detail for theoverhead-black-roof-for-WWW social environment, such as the size and the structure of the church and the clues for the movements of Donne. The books, such as The Book of Common Prayer, also provide strong evidence to the order of service. To make the tremendous data easier to understand, the researchers summarize and present them not only with words, but also with visual model, which is a more direct description to the site that can only be found in the history. For example, when the researchers describe the weather of the church, they first provide a bunch of data analyzing the weather of London in 1622. Then, to help readers Straight-on-moderate-close-PC-for-WWWdirectly “see” the church, the researchers provide a visual model of the church. The picture shows a more precise description for the church: the gloomy atmosphere, the smoke and the bleakness of the place, each with explanations found in the data part.

The acoustic model plays the same role with the visual model does. Finding any acoustic sources from the contemporary paintings, the researchers collect these elements together and present them into acoustic model, which helps readers not only “see” the historical site, but also “hear” it.

Visualization and audio analysis make the project more acceptable to readers, helping people who are not familiar with such project put themselves into the historical site and experience it with their eyes and ears, instead of simply read it.