Reflection on Final Project

Our final project is to design a website together as a group, instead of doing our individual projects. Since different pages in this website talk about different digital tools we learned during this semester, our first mission is to identify each person’s role in this project. With the help of Spiderscribe, we separate the project into five different parts. Yuting is responsible for the website design and Timemapper. In her page, she talks about the historical background of the journal we are working on, which helps reader have a broader vision of what was happening at the same time in the 1740s. Sonia is responsible for both the Juxta Edition and Omeka. Since the two digital tools are what we learned in the beginning of this semester. Her work is mainly to check the spelling of the translation and the tags of people, place and time. As what she wrote on her page, Omeka is a tool to make original manuscripts more accessible for the public and Juxta Edition is amazing because it makes reading more easily. Suné’s job is to working with TEI files in Oxygen. She did really a good job in double checking the mistakes in the codes, changing the size and color of the content, highlight the places and characters’ names. Caroline and I are responsible for making new story maps which are based on the old story maps we created individually before. I also accepted the job to work with Gephi, which explores relationships between people who appear in the journal.

Assigning roles with Spiderscribe.
Assigning roles with Spiderscribe.

Since the final project is more like a connection, not a creation. We reread the blog posts we wrote before and the materials which were posted on the word press. Interestingly, The process of doing our final project reminded me a lot of what we did during the whole semester. During this whole semester, we’ve been working on the Payne and Froehlich’s Travel Journal. Since it is my first time to get access to 18th century handwriting manuscripts, the translation of cursive writing of the letter was a big challenge for me to overcome. Thanks to Professors’ help, I gradually found out the similarities between the same letters and the speed of my translating increased a lot. During the future several weeks, we learned how to use Juxta edition to tag people and places, and TEI files to do some deeper and more precise reading, which is called close reading. Gephi and Time Mapper are two more digital tools to analyze the journal in different aspects. Gephi puts emphasis on relationships between people, and otherwise, time mapper puts all event in the order of time. However, my favorite digital tool is GIS and I finally chose it as my part of final project.

The process of creating my own story map is full of fun. Although everyone’s story is based on the same journal, everyone focused on different parts. As the final project, I mixed mine, Sonia’s and Sune’s story map together. When I was browsing their map stories, I even got a deeper understanding of what Bodenhammer said “deep maps…..are genuinely multimedia and multilayered”. With different compositions of different maps, our map stories have totally different topics and focus on the new relationship between elements, like slaves, plantation and Moravian. My own map story talks about how they finally chose the route. However, after I mixed mine with other people’s story map, the whole story became more abundant. It is because the historical background, the locations of plantations, the real life of slaves made the story more trusty and logical. In this case, we can concluded that: They started from Bethlehem in Monocracy Path. They changed direction when they arrived Lancaster. It’s because along the Susquehanna River live many Native Americans and there are also many colonial ferries. After they crossed the Susquehanna River and got into Maryland, wherever they stopped and lay at is never far from plantations. They started their journey from those concentrated areas of itinerancy and preaching in Pennsylvania and tried to bring Moravian culture to occasional areas of itinerancy and preaching in Maryland and Virginia.

Story Map
I also worked on the page of the introduction of Gephi. Since there is no blog post about Gephi and it had been a month since we discussed about it, it was a big challenge for me in the beginning. Luckily, Professor Faull sent me the images of our Gephis, which did a great help in my page design. After consideration, I finally chose Suné’s and my Gephis as a contrasting example in the page. As we all know, since the visualization of Gephi largely depends on the nodes and edges we add, different thinking of relationships between characters leads to totally different Gephi. Suné and I have two contrast thinking of the design of Gephi. With two main characters, Froehlich and Payne, in the center, her Gephi is a network visualization of the relationship between each of them and all people who showed up on the journey. Comparatively, my Gephi looks a little bit simpler since it has only 1 center character, Froehlich. My idea is that, as Payne is the writer of the whole journal, he definitely has an central relationship with every other person who appeared in this journal. Because of this, I took him out of my Gephi visualization. At the top of this page, I cited what Mathieu Bastian & Sebastien Heymann said about Gephi. It is because i think it will give reader a clear view of what Gephi’s function is.

This final project is meaningful to me, not only because it provided me with a chance to review what we learned during this whole semester, but also because it made me fully understand the importance of cooperation in a team. Since Yuting is the one who designed the whole website, to upload my pages before deadline is significantly important. Here is the link to our amazing website.


Working on Payne’s Journal with GIS Technology

As Bodenhammer mentions in his article, GIS is a seductive technology, a magic box capable of wondrous feats, and the images it constructs so effortlessly appeal to us in ways more subtle and more powerful than words can. In the past 2 weeks, we paid emphasis on how to use GIS to look for a new understanding this old journal in a spatial way. It’s amazing in the beginning to me since for the first time, I realized that we are capable of working on an old map. I can add footnotes on the walking route of Payne and add signs on the map. I can measure the average distance they walked per day by dividing the days from the length of the whole route through the measure function in GIS technology (474.5/31=15.3 miles). Since they walked all through the journey, 15 mile a day is not bad. And it’s back in 1747. The path they chose is like the Monocracy Path, one of the Indian Paths, and the Great Road. It did limit their traveling speed. What‘s more, they need to get the pass as soon as they arrived the new place and they need to talk with slave to preaching Moravian culture. All this physical elements affected their rate. What else I can do with the GIS technology is that I can add my own layer on the original map. With damaging the old map, we can overlap different map and look for their internal relationships. It’s what we can get through the written records. What mapping the travel route reveals about Payne and Froehlich’s journey is that how they choose this specific route, not that one. And since I’m really curious about this point, I created my own map story on this topic.

The process of learning how to use the GIS is really a fresh experience, but it gets even more magical when I create my own map story. When I was creating my own map story, I got a deeper understanding “Spaces are not simply the setting for historical action but are a significant product and determinant of change.” My map story talks about how they finally chose the route. The reason is quite complicated when we related Payne’s journal to Moravian Itinerant, Slaves, Plantation in Maryland and Virginia, Native American Paths, and other historical reasons. In this case, the function is marvelously significant when we create map layers. They started from Bethlehem in Monocracy Path. They changed direction when they arrived Lancaster. It’s because along the Susquehanna River live many Native Americans and there are also many colonial ferries. After they crossed the Susquehanna River and got into Maryland, wherever they stopped and lay at is never far from plantations. They started their journey from those concentrated areas of itinerancy and preaching in Pennsylvania and tried to bring Moravian culture to occasional areas of itinerancy and preaching in Maryland and Virginia.

Furthermore, as Bodenhammer said “deep maps…..are genuinely multimedia and multilayered”, we can use different composition of different maps to find new relationship between elements, like slaves, plantation and Moravian. As the history is complicated and different matters happened in different place at the same time. The multilayered maps give us a objective view what is going on. The following is the screenshot of the slides of my map story.


Close Reading and Prosopography

On the WebDuring the past 2 weeks, we learned how to use close reading for the deeper understanding of the Payne journal and how to use editorial tools, not only Juxta Editions, but also a new and magical tool, Oxygen to work on the transcription in XML files and also in a more detailed way. During this process, apart from how to use digital tools and how to collaborate with others, I learned how important self reflection is for an editor.
When I was working on my own pages, the 2 main challenges I met were how to decide whether I should mark up this word, not that one, and where to stop. The first challenge of how to decide directly led me ignore some particular word I should mark up. In this case, on my first time reading through my own pages, I finished quickly and let slip many words unconsciously. Gradually I realized this problem in my editorial process. Just as Elena Pierazzo mentioned in her article: “Scholarly choices constitute the base of any transcription and subsequent diplomatic edition”, what I did on my own pages now would finally appear in front of readers. Therefore, making scholarly choices seems to be extraordinarily important. For the second time reading, I put more emphasis on the trait description, the emotional changes of characters, the role names and the changes of the place location. My personal experience in making a choice explains why I feel quite interesting about Elena Pierazzo’s point: “the alterations which lead from the former to the latter are interpretative and irreversible.” As she explains, two scholars, given the same transcriptional criteria, are most likely not to produce the same transcription of the same exemplar, it’s crucial to treat any resource with the same respect and carefulness.

Then I met the second challenge: where to stop. What Elena Pierazzo pointed out this time is very helpful to me on deciding where to stop. She said that if there is an infinite set of facts to be observed within the physical object, ‘no limits’ might lead us to create a model which aspires to equal the object to be studied. But a model must be simpler than the object it models, otherwise it will be unusable for any practical purpose. As we learned that the diplomatic edition is more similar to a model, everything we put in this model should be concise and meaningful enough to make the context accessible to every reader. In this case, I learned that the work I mark up in the XML file should be related to the journal itself. It does matter how the word is related to the Moravian, the historical background or a particular place name.  My job, as the editior, is to find out the relationship between the words I mark up.


Page 5
Page 5
Page 10
Page 10

Last but not least, I want to mention my design for my web page. As we can see, I chose the white background since it’s easy for reading. Since readers are more likely to be scholars and students who are working on their papers on Moravian, I highlight the place and the role names by changing their color to red and blue.


Since memories become blurred as time goes by, the existing documents, journals and images are extraordinarily important records for people to understand history. Nowadays, historians tend to use both the chronology and geography to interpret history in a more digital way. “While history dealt in stories, chronology dealt in facts”.[Grafton] Chronology is widely used among historians. However, as what Hayden White described it as a “rudimentary form of histrography”[Grafton], chronology doesn’t give us all specific events which happened in a particular year. Its function lies in giving reader a line of the historical structure of that period of time. In this case, I inevitably related his words to the image which we were talking about this following image during the class.

“Conspectus of the History of Political Parties” (1880). Created just after the nation’s centennial, it translates a century of political history into a single visual picture.
“Conspectus of the History of Political Parties” (1880). Created just after the nation’s centennial, it translates a century of
political history into a single visual picture.

The shortage of this image lies in the missing history in the eighteenth century. It is easily recognized that the part which close to present time is much more twisted and complicated than the part in eighteenth century. It doesn’t mean that more events happened in the present time, but mean that most part of eighteenth century history were not written down.
As Grafton mentioned in the text, scholars in Europe used tables to record events which traced back as early as fourth century. Different from the typical chronologically tables during the fourth century, people have more convenient tools. During this week, we learned how to use TimeMapper and Timeglider. For me, TimeMapper is really interesting. Below is a screen shot of my slide— Great Wagon Road.

Great Road
Great Road

As Great Wagon Road is a very long road from Philadelphia to South Georgia, it’s really hard to make a specific location spot on the map on the right hand. Eventually, I choose the location where Payne mentioned Great Road in his Journal. When we are doing some readings, it’s hard to relate one event to another according to its location and time. However, TimeMapper did it for us. We can compare these events and search for whether they have any relationship. Another advantage of TimeMapper is that one can quickly find the slide they are looking for by zooming in and out the timeline at the bottom.
While TimeMapper give us a broader overview of historical events which has some relationship with the journals, the Timeglider timeline aimed to analyze the chronology of Payne’s journal itself. By inputting important event during their travel, such as what they did, where were they, when did that happen. We can also add images on the top to help interpret the whole case. Below is what I did for my part of the journal.pdf3

Distant Reading

During the process of learning about Distant Reading last week, I found it quite interesting to capture the beauty of Distant Reading. Distant Reading, as Whitley mentioned in her writing, is not to take the place of traditional close reading, but to give readers a broader view of the whole documents in a quantitative other than qualitative way.
This is quite apparent when related to personal reading experiences. People intend to pay more attention to the feeling changes of the characters in the whole story since words are qualitative. In this case, you need to sniff what is hidden underneath the word, not just the word itself. However, various digital tools give us a more clear way, through giving numerical data, tree maps and other methods, to view the whole document in distance calmly and dispassionately. We transcribed the travel journal by Jasper Payne in 1747. At first, we read it as usual to get a general view of what they did every day during the journey, how they crossed the river, met the Justice and talked to Negroes. As Payne himself heavily involved in the event, his perspective is quite related to his religion and personal characteristic. In this case, readers will feel themselves also heavily got involved when reading. However, as we put the Travel Diary into Cirrus, one Voyant tool, the screen shows as follow.

When click at a specific word, a axis graph on the top right shows the frequency of this word that appears in the text.

By studying this kind of graphs, we will be confused about what the logical relationship within the text and get a more clear view of what is going on quantitatively.


Link is another representative tool to re-process this travel journal. As it not only display distant reading, but also spatial reading, the key words in the document are showed how they relate to each other. Another very interesting point in Whitley reading is related to the Poetess Archives, a visualization project that relate the flowery poetry in Britain and America between 1750 to 1900. This is quite attractive to me since human eyes are not able to directly gather these two together in a short period of time, but DH can. As what we did during today’s class, we put Travel Diary and Powell Diary, two documents which similar but not not, together in the DocuBurst. The image below is what came out in one second. This is really cool to use digital tools to connect 2 old documents.



Digital Artifact is a great invention? It depends.

Following the prompt on the WordPress, I went to the DH Sample Book website, where Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital edition, Network analysis, Textual analysis, and Audio analysis are seven different categories the archives fall under. Under Archive, I browsed the 3 projects, the OldWeather, Lincoln at 200 and Database of Indigenous Peoples in North America.

Since digital artifacts provide a tremendous network platform. On that platform, users can easily find the information they are looking for with the help of tags and metadata. In this case, a huge database is accessible to almost every user. The internet gathered all materials which shatter all over the world on the same website. Instead of taking the 15-or-more-hour flight to see the original archive, one now only need 1 second to get all related digital archives because tags and metadata grouped them together. Furthermore, since a lot of important archives are so antiquated and fragile that they are generally inaccessible to the public. With the help of digital technology, we can get one copy version in our laptop.  The digital artifact is also very important since it puts the images and context side by side to give readers a much more clear view of what is going on. the perfect integration of image and context

However, one disadvantage appears when we are looking at a digital document, like journals. As time passes, words on ancient archives became blurred and unrecognizable. With the pixel problems, scholars sometimes still need the actual archive for research study, although the digital version is provided online. “Old Weather” displays a photograph of a “logbook” from a ship that became trapped in ice. As the original document traced back to the late 19th century, the digital artifact gave us more difficulties to understand what it meant. A poor understanding of its meaning will directly lead to the failure of research study.  Logbook for the Jeannette

During this week, I found it is really hard to find one interesting title for my exhibit. I want to make my exhibit look colorful and attractive . In this case, I prefer to use portraits and oil paintings rather than maps and journals. However, due to the limited databases, I have to change my title frequently to make my images match the title.