Women Writers Online: still free for one more week

Women Writers Online: still free for one more week

Posted by: on April 12, 2017   |Comments (0)|Open Access

We’re nearing the tail end of Women’s History Month, and Women Writers Online, a database of transcriptions of early modern women’s writing, is still free to access for the rest of the month! WWO’s contents include short and long poetry, plays, novels, essays and religious content, midwifery books, and more. Writers at all levels of fame are represented, from Elizabeth I and Aphra Behn to anonymous and pseudonymous writers. Here are just a few of the texts:

Cavendish, Margaret (Lucas), Duchess of Newcastle: The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing-World, 1667. An early work of sci-fi!

Neither was it a wonder that the men did freeze to death; for they were not onely driven to the very end or point of the Pole of that World, but even to another Pole of another World, which joined close to it…

By this Poetical Description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not onely to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole World; and that the Worlds I have made, both the Blazing- and the other Philosophical World, mentioned in the first part of this Description, are framed and composed of the most pure, that is, the Rational parts of Matter, which are the parts of my Mind…And in the formation of those Worlds, I take more delight and glory, then ever Alexander or Cesar did in conquering this terrestrial world.

Sowernam, Ester: Esther Hath Hang’d Haman, 1617. One of several responses to Joseph Swetnam’s misogynistic pamphlet “The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women”, this text methodically points out holes in Swetnam’s logic and refutes his points in like manner.

He runneth on, and saith, They were made of a Rib, and that their froward and crooked nature doth declare, for a Rib is a crooked thing, &c. Woman was made of a crooked rib, so she is crooked of conditions. Joseph Swetnam was made as from Adam of clay and dust, so he is of a durty and muddy disposition.

Barbauld, Anna Laetitia (Aikin): Poems, 1773. Poetry about nature, politics and current events, the poet’s friends, and other subjects.

From glittering scenes which strike the dazzled sight
With mimic grandeur and illusive light,
From idle hurry, and tumultous noise,
From hollow friendships, and from sickly joys,
Will Delia, at the muse’s call retire
To the pure pleasures rural scenes inspire?
Will she from crowds and busy cities fly,
Where wreaths of curling smoke involve the sky,
To taste the grateful shade of spreading trees,
And drink the spirit of the mountain breeze?

And from her Sins of Government, Sins of the Nation, 1793:

If an oppressive law, or a destructive war, were of the nature of a volcano or a hurricane, proceeding from causes totally independent of our operations, all we should have to do, would be to bow our heads in silent submission, and to bear their ravages with a manly patience. We do not repent of a dangerous disorder or a sickly constitution, because these are things which do not depend upon our own efforts…But we are called upon to repent of national sins, because we can help them, and because we ought to help them.

There are some, whose nerves, rather than whose principles, cannot bear cruelty — like other nuisances, they would not chuse it in sight, but they can be well content to know it exists, and that they are indebted for it to the increase of their income, and the luxuries of their table.

Davies, Lady Eleanor: The Benediction, 1651. Davies published a number of works in which she interpreted Biblical prophecies in Daniel and Revelation through anagrams, numerology, and other tools to apply to current events. She anagrammed her own maiden name, Eleanor Audelie, as “Reveale O Daniel.” This document asserts God’s blessing on Oliver Cromwell.

By whom Decypher’d that Generals Thundring Donative his the Crown and Bended Bowe (Rev. 6.) That Seal or Box of Nard opened; as much to say, O: Cromwel, Renowned be Victorious so long as Sun Moon continues or livever.

Anagram, Howl Rome: And thus with one voice, come and see, O: C: Conquering and to Conquer went forth.

Take a look at the WWO database while it’s still Women’s History Month!

We’re nearing the tail end of Women’s History Month, and Women Writers Online, a database of transcriptions of early modern... MORE

Rosarium is Live

Posted by: on February 3, 2017   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

Rosarium has been up and running for a few months, but I don’t think it’s been officially announced anywhere, so: Rosarium is live!

The Rosarium Project is an online collection of nonfiction writing about roses compiled and TEI-encoded by Julia R. Tryon, Assistant Professor and Commons Librarian for Research & Education at PC. It is expected to be of use to garden historians, to gardeners who may be interested in learning about older techniques and cultivars, and to scholars of leisure activity and lifestyles.

Currently the collection contains magazine articles dating from 1894 to 1922, with an eventual goal of expanding its chronological scope backwards to the sixteenth century. It is fully searchable. Results are sortable by date, reverse date, journal, title, or author, and can additionally be filtered by rose variety or other subject, by rose color, and by journal type (literary, women’s, arts, gardening, etc.). The user can add records to a bookbag which can then be emailed, generate citations, and learn more about people and terms mentioned in the articles by reading pop-ups which appear when names are clicked.

  • View Rosarium here.
  • More about Rosarium here.

Here are a few screenshots:

Rosarium has been up and running for a few months, but I don’t think it’s been officially announced anywhere, so:... MORE

Playing with Palladio

Posted by: on October 14, 2016   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

Palladio is a research tool for examining data across time and space.  It allows for the identification of patterns, clusters, and trends within data that may be difficult for an individual researcher interacting with the data to see.  Palladio serves as a means of enhancing (not replacing) traditional qualitative humanities research methods.  Data can be mapped, graphed to show network relationships, viewed and faceted as an interactive gallery, and more.  Palladio comes out of Stanford University’s Humanities + Design research lab.

I’m enrolled in an Introduction to Digital Humanities course through Library Juice Academy.  One of my assignments this week requires an examination of Palladio (as well as a similar tool, Google Fusion Tables).  Palladio peaked my interest.  My initial introduction and interaction with Palladio came through the very helpful Getting Started With Palladio tutorial by Miriam Posner.  This tutorial provides clear, easy to follow instructions for uploading data into Palladio and beginning to work with the data tools- definitely check it out.

After completing the Posner’s tutorial I got inspired to apply Palladio to some data we have access to through DPS projects.  I took a few minutes to aggregate data from a couple of different spreadsheets around the Dorr Letters Project.  My data looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 4.27.34 PM







In less than a minute I was able to create this visualization graphing the “to” and “from” fields:

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 4.26.07 PM





And this map showing the origination location for each item of correspondence:

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 4.38.00 PM





I’ll continue to play with Palladio and update this post accordingly.






Palladio is a research tool for examining data across time and space.  It allows for the identification of patterns, clusters,... MORE

Paleography Tips!

Posted by: on September 23, 2016   |Comment (1)|Digital Humanities

Leah Grandy, of the Loyalist Collection at the University of New Brunswick Libraries, has a few recent(-ish) posts on paleography, or deciphering historical handwriting. Grandy notes here that paleography training—previously thought to be necessary only for people studying medieval and early modern texts, which may be written in styles such as blackletter or secretary hand that they don’t necessarily encounter much in their modern lives—may also need to be extended to students and researchers of later centuries as well. Cursive, previously a staple of early education, is no longer taught in many schools, and as a result, undergrads are arriving at college who have trouble reading 18th-20th century handwritten primary sources. As someone who has deciphered written annotations for the Women Writers Project and sometimes transcribes documents on Shakespeare’s World for fun, I’m used to people recoiling in fear and/or disgust at the idea of facing down secretary hand, but it’s strange for me to think about people having a similar reaction to cursive!

In this post, Grandy offers a really helpful set of tips for reading or transcribing handwritten documents—whatever style they’re written in. Among them: comparing unclear letters/words to identifiable ones; looking up people and places; transcribing what you can identify and leaving blanks before coming back; guessing and going with your gut! If you’re a student or researcher dealing with handwritten primary sources, check it out.

Leah Grandy, of the Loyalist Collection at the University of New Brunswick Libraries, has a few recent(-ish) posts on paleography,... MORE

“Hamilton” and Digital Humanities

Posted by: on June 24, 2016   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle for educating children and teens about the early history of the United States. Public interest in the Founding Fathers’ lives and views is high — at the moment, Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton is at the top of the NYT’s paperback nonfiction bestseller list, where it has resided for 35 weeks, and also appears on the e-book nonfiction bestseller list, while Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book on George Washington has a place on the hardcover list. Some die-hard musical fans have moved beyond the Chernow biography into primary sources like Aaron Burr’s journals and John Laurens’s letters.

It’s not only the musical’s content that’s gained a spot in the public eye, though — its critical acclaim and widespread popularity have meant that DH-esque projects relating to its lyrics have attracted mainstream attention of a kind that similar projects on other subjects rarely get. Raplyzer, Eric Malmi’s 2015 program analyzing assonance and other rhymes in rap lyrics, was covered in a handful of sources as a light “computers, whatever will they do next” story — the non-specialist sources largely focused on the aspect of the project where the computer generated raps of its own, rather than on its analysis. (It goes without saying that rhyme analysis tools developed by literature scholars for poetry, like this one by Elise Thorsen and David J. Birnbaum, don’t even get that media attention.) Meanwhile, in 2016, Hamilton’s reputation led the Wall Street Journal itself to develop an algorithm similar to Malmi’s to use on the show’s lyrics; due to the show’s broad appeal, this was widely shared online.

Although the website Genius, a database of rap lyrics and other content with crowdsourced annotations, had been widely covered before its association with Hamilton, observers took particular note of the speed and thoroughness with which the site’s users marked up the show’s libretto. Genius’s strength, as it related to Hamilton specifically, lay in the breadth of knowledge of its crowdsourcing crowd: hip-hop aficionados picked up the references to Grandmaster Flash, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, fans coming from a musical theatre background noticed the shout-outs to South Pacific and The Last Five Years, and history buffs provided more context for details that are elided or come up only in passing, like the Battle of Fort Necessity, the Whiskey Rebellion, Hercules Mulligan’s slave Cato, or New York’s prominence in the 1770s. These annotations help a reader understand the musical both as a 21st-century document and as a narrative of the 18th-19th century.

Crowdsourced digital humanities projects frequently deal with much larger corpora than this, which need to be put into indexable form before they can be used by researchers. Such projects are therefore less subjective and less demanding of subject area knowledge. A selection of crowdsourced DH projects:

Hamilton fans who would like to read the title character’s writings can find them at Founders Online. A few that may be of interest:

  • “The Farmer Refuted”, actually far more eloquently insulting than its paraphrase in the musical
  • First preserved letter from Hamilton to Eliza Schuyler, his future wife, apologizing for having offered to drive her and a friend to a party before remembering that he was not a good enough driver to do so
  • Draft of an Opinion on the Constitutionality of an Act to Establish a Bank, one of Hamilton’s most noted political successes. This draft, with cross-outs and additions, is an interesting look at Hamilton’s thought process!
  • Letters between Hamilton and Aaron Burr (1, 2, 3, 4) leading up to their duel, signed — indeed — “I have the honor to be your obedient servant, A. Hamilton/A. Burr”
  • And many more!

The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle... MORE

text analysis with Voyant Tools

Posted by: on May 26, 2016   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

tl;dr: Voyant Tools is a free, open, web-based tool for textual analysis.

Voyant logoVoyant Tools is an open, web-based tool for textual analysis.  Using the tool is easy.  Go to the site and link to or upload your text (the system accepts a wide variety of formats including PDF, XML, TEI, and more).  Once you ingest the text or corpus you are presented with a dashboard of visualizations and tools.  Some of the tools built into Voyant include: Cirrus, a word cloud generator; Summary, a helpful overview of the corpus; Mandala, a visualization that shows the relationship between terms and documents; and many more (explore Voyant’s helpful documentation for the full list of tools).  Another great feature is the ability to generate a URL for the entire corpus dashboard or specific visualizations which can then be linked to or embedded into web-based writing.

Voyant Tools creators Stéfan Sinclar (@sgsinclair) and Geoffrey Rockwell (@GeoffRockwell) have also written a book called Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities (2016, MIT Press).  Rusty on your Greek and wondering what “hermeneutic” means, anyway?  So was I.  Hermeneutic means interpretive or explanatory and comes from the Greek “hermenēus,” interpreter.   The book is accompanied by an extremely rich and helpful web site, Hermeneuti.ca, that uses Voyant to visualize and interpret the book’s content while providing examples of how humanities scholars might integrate textual analysis visualizations into their writing.   One interesting example is found in Now Analyze That! in which speeches on the topic of race by Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright are analyzed.

Text analysis has been part of the digital humanities toolkit for some time.  Voyant has been in existence since 2013 and several examples of how it has been used in digital pedagogy are available.  These include Brian Croxall’s (@briancroxall) discussion of using Voyant Tools to analyze Hemingway; an explanation of how Voyant Tools was used to analyze a corpus of runaway slave advertisements in the U.S. antebellum south as part of a digital history course at Rice University; and a recent write-up on ProfHacker.

I decided to play with Voyant Tools using the corpus of correspondence presented on our Dorr Letters Project site.  I zipped up all 61 TEI files, uploaded the zip file to Voyant Tools, and got this dashboard:

Voyant Dashboard

How cool!?  There is a lot to unpack in this data but I’ll highlight a couple of the things that most struck me:

  • the most used words in the corpus are: dorr, letter, constitution and state (I didn’t remove the TEI Header, introductory text, or follow-up questions included in our TEI so what shows up in the dashboard is not just representative of the letter content)
  • the second 30 letters in teh collection were written by “Anti-Dorrites.”  isolating that part of the corpus and then comparing it to those letters written by Dorr might be revealing
  • it would be interesting to select only those letters written by Dorr and analyze the frequency of certain terms to see if patterns arise over time in relation to Dorr’s political views (of course, this is a small corpus so broad generalizations are dangerous)

Voyant Tools is simple to use and extremely interesting- give it a try yourself!

tl;dr: Voyant Tools is a free, open, web-based tool for textual analysis. Voyant Tools is an open, web-based tool for... MORE

Digital Futures of Indigenous Studies

Posted by: on March 18, 2016   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a fantastic roundtable on Digital Futures of Indigenous Studies in the Digital Scholarship Lab at Brown University’s John D. Rockefeller Library. The event was “part of an ongoing initiative at the JCB to encourage and support a new generation of scholars and community members as they build consciousness about Indigenous issues not only in New England, but also in the United States and internationally”. The discussion centered on “the use of digital media to foster education, research, and outreach within Indigenous communities and studies.” There was a focus on how digital media and tools can help to create connections between people and materials, as well as the importance of relationship-building with Native communities, the ethics surrounding these projects, and project management issues of resource allocation, stewardship, and sustainability.

I was particularly impressed with Tobias Glaza and Paul Grant-Costa’s Yale Indian Papers Project. They focused on the importance of Indigenous communities as stakeholders in the project and collaborating with community members right from the beginning to answer questions like – What’s most important to the community? How do they tell their stories? What information should remain private? How do they want to access and use their digital history? With this approach, they published the New England Indian Papers Series – “a scholarly critical edition of New England Native American primary source materials gathered into one robust virtual collection.” Built on Yale’s Ladybird software and using a Blacklight front-end, the platform is clean and easy-to-use, and includes a document reader, scholarly transcription, and extensive metadata.

An eye-opening takeaway from Alyssa Mt. Pleasant’s presentation on the American Indian Studies (AIS) resources portal that she built at Yale, is the importance of maintaining a project’s stewardship to ensure its longevity. Unfortunately, the AIS portal, which took 3 years to build, wasn’t taken on by anyone else when she left Yale, and consequently, is no longer accessible.

Lisa Brooks from Amherst College gave a fantastic talk on the problem of trying to understand the history of Native spaces when the main existing reference points are colonial maps. She’s worked extensively on creating new historical maps of Indigenous spaces to support her research and is also engaged in the idea of maps as storytelling, often combining her maps with present-day photos of the locations to bring them to life. Her work is included in Amherst’s digital map collection, which was created using Esri’s ArcGIS platform, and is definitely worth checking out.

Another standout was Dana Leibsohn’s project, Vistas, which “seeks to bring an understanding of the visual culture of Spanish America to a broad audience.” Vistas was designed as a non-linear platform, in an effort to encourage multiple pathways between content that would support research in a variety of scholarly disciplines, as well as less formal modes of education and learning. Launched in the late 90’s, Vistas has undergone three major evolutions, from a website hosted by Smith College, to a DVD, and now back to an online version hosted by Fordham University. Dr. Leibsohn’s stewardship of the project over the years has clearly been integral to its longevity, which includes her commitment to tackling the challenges of migrating the platform to keep up with ever-evolving technologies.

There were also a couple of great discussions surrounding endangered Native languages, including a conversation on the power of digital activism to increase online, and particularly social media usage of these languages, as a way of preserving them.

Obviously all of these projects are contributing to content-collection, digital preservation, and scholarship needs, but it was great to hear that so many are focused on supporting Indigenous communities by facilitating access to their histories, preserving them, and ultimately, helping to amplify the voices of these communities.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a fantastic roundtable on Digital Futures of Indigenous Studies in the Digital Scholarship Lab at... MORE

Engaging Users and Remixing Content: New York Public Library’s Digital Collections

Posted by: on February 12, 2016   |Comments (0)|Facilities and Tools

As I’ve begun settling into Providence after my move from New York, I’m finally having some time to catch up on my library news. I had heard about NYPL’s recent release of more than 180,000 public domain items from their digital collections, including the first known photography by a woman and more than 40,000 stereoscopic views of the U.S., but as I delved deeper, I discovered all of the exciting tools and initiatives that they’ve integrated into the collections to encourage discovery, interaction, sharing, research, and reuse. In particular, I’ve been musing on the fantastic visual browsing tool. Data visualization is still often thought of simply as a graphic, sometimes interactive, representation of statistics and other data, but it also clearly has so much potential as a tool for discovery, by helping users to better understand the scope of the information that they’re searching or exploring.

A thousand skaters, Central Park

Strohmeyer & Wyman, “A thousand skaters, Central Park” (1889), stereoscopic image (via NYPL)

Beyond content visualization, NYPL is championing active user/content engagement with the Digital Collections API, a Remix Residency program and other tools from the creative folks at NYPL Labs, like The Green Book trip planner, which uses “locations extracted from mid-20th century motor guides that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, and other destinations where Black travelers would be welcome.”

For those of us who spend most of our days in the weeds of content management, NYPL’s Digital Collections initiatives are a great reminder to think innovatively about how we can better connect and engage users with digital collections.

For some Friday fun, check out their Stereogranimator and create some 3D images!

As I’ve begun settling into Providence after my move from New York, I’m finally having some time to catch up... MORE

Cultural Institutions Embrace Crowdsourcing

Posted by: on October 1, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

A recent post on the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Blog, The Signal by Mike Ashenfelder takes a look at crowdsourcing’s value to library and cultural heritage digital projects. Citizen volunteers can participate in activities such as analyzing images, creating tags and metadata, subtitling videos, transcribing documents, correcting OCR’d (optical character recognition) text and more. Ashenfelder provides several international examples of digital projects that leverage the power of citizen volunteer participation.

For the complete post click here.

A recent post on the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Blog, The Signal by Mike Ashenfelder takes a look at... MORE

NYPL Now Loaning WiFi Hotspots

Posted by: on August 6, 2015   |Comments (0)|Spotlights

Tony Marx, director of the New York Public Library, has recently secured funding for a project that will allow the NYPL to offer it’s patrons free Wi-Fi hotstpot devices. Marx has been known for his vision of a more accessible library.

We’re human beings. We’re social animals. Even if you don’t need to come to the library to read a book, people come to the library to be together and to be in inspiring spaces


Learn more about the Library HotSpot here: http://hotspot.nypl.org/

If you’d like to learn more about Tony Marx, and the NYPL, check out his talk with Arianna Huffington at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Tony Marx, director of the New York Public Library, has recently secured funding for a project that will allow the... MORE