Walking Tour


For my walking tour, I would like to focus on the Jewish community in Albany prior to the Civil War. This tour will focus on Synagogues,Businesses, and other sites important to telling the story of Albany’s Jews prior in the Antebellum period.

Temple Beth-El Jacob (original building at 28 Fulton St.)

Temple Beth-El Jacob  Herkimer st  c 1910  albany ny

2nd Bethel Synagogue (76 Herkimer St.)

Temple Beth-Emeth

Temple beth Emeth Lancaster and jay  early 1900s  albany ny




1st Bethel Synagogue(166 Bassett St.)

1st Anshe Emeth Synagogue (77 S. Ferry St.)


Workbook Tableau -Albany Synagogues




Midterm Brainstorm – Pre-Civil War Cemeteries

My idea for the walking tour would be going to the sites of historic graveyards around the city. I wanted to do a walking tour of the builders of the graveyards and maybe other non-grave yard locations they might have built, but I couldn’t so far find information on any specific builders/movers/laborers. These three pictures are of three locations I might use, though I think I’ll definitely end up having to change the scope of the project because of how far the locations seem to be from each other.

Halenbeek Family Burial Grounds from Flickr
, location no longer exists and a quick google maps search is a little ambiguous with where the site might have been.
Albany NY Halenbeek Family Burial Grounds - Corner of South Pearl & Hamilton Sts -removed in 1860

Albany Rural Cemetery, still exists and was established in the 1840s. According to the cemetery website the location is fairly popular as a tourist attraction (Flickr has loads and loads of pictures of the head stones and some illustrations, like those below), so maybe I can switch the tour to be more ARC-focused.
albany rural cemetery 1844
lodge at rural cemetery 1884
Gardener of the Albany Rural Cemetery

The Washington Park Cemetery, which no longer exists, was located across the park. Its bodies were officially relocated to the ARC by 1868. Focusing between WPC and ARC might actually make up a more cohesive project than trying to dig up all the old private graveyards churches and families used, if I could find an interesting angle. For right now, I have a picture of an old map laid over a current one indicating where the cemetery would have been. This was found on a site that lead me to a tweet.

(the image linked to above is here:)

The Bonfire of the Humanities-post on the readings for Feb. 23

The History Manifesto by Jo Guli at Brown University and David Armitage of Harvard University seeks to bring general relevance back to the study of history. In their work, the authors debate the long-term versus short-term focus of historical thinking and make recommendations to keep the field of history relevant to the twenty first century. The name of their introduction “the bonfire of the humanities?” offers explanation enough as to why historians should be concerned with their place not only in the academy, but in society overall. The authors posit that historians need to reassert themselves into the broader academic and cultural conversations, and that history has much to tell us about the problems of today and even tomorrow, writing in the introduction “The sword of history has two edges, one that cuts open new possibilities in the future, and one that cuts through the noise, contradictions, and lies of the past.” In a way, the article can be seen as calling for historians to abandon the more humanities focused aspect of history, and bring it closer in line with the social sciences.

The second chapter of the book focuses on the generation of historians who came of age in the late 1960s, and fundamentally altered the study of the past through their emphasis on archival research and short term thinking, rather than a focus on grand narratives. Guli and Armitage argue that these historians were heavily influenced by the political events taking place in the late 1960s and that these experiences made them look to events in the past in order to understand the present: “It is to this generation, with their ambitions for changing the world, that we owe the strength of the commandment to focus on the past in order to gain insight into the present.” While these historians reinvigorated the historical profession, the authors argue that this new found emphasis on short-term pasts and esoteric knowledge left a gap in public history that was filled by non-professionals “In the last forty years, the public has embraced a series of proliferating myths about our long-term past and its meaning for the future, almost none of them formulated by professional historians.” In abandoning the larger story of history, academic historians isolated themselves and made themselves vulnerable to charges that they were too esoteric to be of use to the larger conversation about what was going on in the world.

The fourth chapter of the History Manifesto emphasizes the use of digital technology to make the seemingly overwhelming amount of information available to historians. The authors discuss how applications such as Paper Machines, an extension for Zotero, make the job of sorting through large swaths of information much easier. This data driven approach allows scholars to explore topics that were hitherto impossible to digest because the sheer amount of information was impossibly hard to dig through. Guli and Armatage argue that the use of technology can allow for a better understanding of the events of the past, and that data driven historical understanding can open up different ways of viewing history: “Digitally structured reading means giving more time to counterfactuals and suppressed voices, realigning the archive to the intentions of history from below.” In addition to social history, however, the authors argue that new digital techniques offer the opportunity to track the progress of things like the codification of laws, making digital history useful for historians of more traditional disciplines, as well. It is in the use of digital history, the authors argue historians can remake themselves and prove their relevancy.

In the section of the fourth chapter Invisible Archives, the authors argue, “Even old archives can be suddenly repurposed to illuminating big stories about extinction events, as with the eighteenth-century natural history collections gathered by naturalists working for the East India Company and others that have been used by ecologists to reconstruct the pattern of extinctions that characterised the Anthropocene.” In this way, historians can use their abilities to tell us not only about the past in terms of how humans interacted with each other, but also how that interaction shaped the world that we liv in today. The authors seem especially hopeful that new digital tools will allow historians to look at the long duree without forcing the past into grand narratives that revolve specifically around political ideology. While the use of large amounts of data to do history will certainly be a part of the future of historical work, there are potential problems of expertise and limits to what one person can know especially when looking at long periods of time. The authors address this issue, but as it is such a new issue, it will likely be some time before it is entirely resolved, if it ever is at all.

The work concludes by calling for a new form of history that combines the long and short-term views and incorporates the use of data to tell a fuller version of the past. Guli and Armitage sum up their argument by saying, “Micro-history and macro-history – short-term analysis and the long-term overview – should work together to produce a more intense, sensitive, and ethical synthesis of data. Critical history is capable of addressing both the macro and the micro, of talking about how small and repressed experiences add up to the overturning of nations and empires.” The authors call for the long-term view offered by Annals school influenced long duree but in a way that rejects the sweeping and overly broad teleological narratives that traditionally accompany that style of history. Essentially what the authors are seeing is a totally new form of the study of history, one that embraces the change over time emphasized by traditionally historiography, but also includes the close and deep reading of sources emphasized by micro history. This is only possible if one incorporates technology into their research.

The article Introduction to Spreadsheets is exactly what it sounds like. It is a very useful tutorial on the intricacies of working with spreadsheets. While historians do not often think about the usefulness of spreadsheets beyond entering student information for grading, using spreadsheets is absolutely necessary for data driven analysis. As the job of the historian expands beyond the traditional focus on creating narratives and arguments based on archival sources, a working knowledge of computer programs will become more and more necessary. As demonstrated by the History Manifesto, the historian’s toolkit is rapidly expanding and tools that have not traditionally been thought of as necessary to historians are quickly become the norm.

Like the Introduction to Spreadsheets, the article on data visualization was originally written for a class on training journalists at Cal Berkeley. That a prestigious university would devote so much time and effort to training writers to work with data show how much the field is changing, and how much those of us working in the traditional humanities are having to change our methodologies as technology evolves. Similar to journalists, historians can use data visualization to better connect their research to the readers. It is one thing read and to understand data, but to have a visualization of the data, the reader is better able to connect the numbers with the text and more fully understand the argument being put forth.



-Should historians be futurists? Are we were really able to tell the future from the past or are there too many variables?

-Is data driven history effective for sort term projects, or only long term?

-Do you think that historians should use data like they do archives to do their research? What are some of the potentials and problems with data in such a way?

-Does data driven analysis change how historians incorporate or don’t incorporate currently political events in their worldview?

-Does the emphasis on the use of technology change your view of what constitutes the humanities?

-Do you think that an implementation of the History Manifesto would remove the study of history from the category of humanities?

Chamberlain Walking Tour Preliminary

This is all tentative, but for my walking tour, I’d like to focus on churches in Downtown Albany. In addition to being architecturally significant in some cases, churches served as centers of culture for respective groups, and played important roles as gathering places for some powerful people in New York’s history. For example, Theodore Roosevelt attended services at the Dutch Reformed Church when he was governor of New York. The tour itself would discuss the history of each church, while also touching upon information (if available) about congregations, religion in New York State, and architecture where applicable.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church

st mary's church  early 1900s  albany ny
St. Peter’s Episcopal

View of Downtown Albany from the Hudson in the 1860s (the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is pointed out)

Albany Ny Skyline - 1862    1860s
Dutch Reformed Church

second dutch church beaver street  Albany NY  1800s

Walking Tour- Albany Waterfront

For the walking tour I would like to look at the Albany Waterfront and the impact that it had on local residents and businesses as well as connecting Albany to other towns and cities. The tour would include discussions on shipping, smuggling, and sailing. Stops would include Canal Locks, Jennings Landing, USS Slater, etc.

The Albany Dock Image Flickr
albany dock 1862  albany ny 1860s

1850 Albany on the water
1853   Lithograph albany ny 1850s

1891 Steamboat landing Albany map
1891 debeers map of albany ny 1890s downtown

Hudson River Steamboat Greeting Card
Hudson River Steamship Adirondack  Albany ny early 1900s
1845 Hudson River
albany NY  1845
William Henry Bartlett 1840’s Print
Albany NY  circa 1840---a print by William Henry Bartlett.
1893 Canal Lock
Erie canal Lock 1893  albany ny  1890s

Barclay Street Morning Line for Albany Steamboat
Morning line  steamboat  albany ny early 1800s
Hudson River Steamboat 1887
New Yok -Hudson River Steamboat - 1887

Samuel Schuyler Skipper 1800’s

Dashboard 1

Francis March Skipper 1800’s

Dashboard 1

Readings For 2/16

To begin with I apologize for only posting this the night before class and as there are a number of articles the summaries are going to be brief.

The first article is How OCR Works, the article is about the history and use of Optical Character Recognition which in short is the use of technology (presently computer technology) to read human handwriting. The article goes over the advantages of the technology as well as its limitations notably how for historians specificity software reading an entire document as opposed to single pieces of information such like an address can tax the program.

The next article “Is digitizing Historical Texts a Bad idea” goes over the debate around the use of digital versions of documents. In the article the author puts forward the idea that a digital version can lose the interest of the reader as documents merge together. Additionally the article presents the idea that when presented as a digital document its place as a piece of history is harmed as opposed to a original document that shows its age and antiquated style.

Article number 3 is Digitisation’s most wanted, the article is about the most accessed articles in several digital libraries. What the author found is that the most popular searches were tied to somewhat random outside actions such as news articles and Facebook links.

Fourth on the list is It’s History Not a Viral Feed, this article is much more opinionated than the previous entries with the article attacking the idea of sites specifically @Historyinpics using historical material (in this case photographs) without proper citation and monetizing the images with a minimum of work done on their part.

The article that’s more than four but less than six on the list is the piece A protest Bot So Specific You Can’t Mistake it for Bullshit playing off a statement by singer Phil Ochs. The statement replacing bot with song was a dig at fellow musician Bob Dylan who in the opinion of Ochs was overly broad in his lyrics making his protest songs less impact. The article gives a quick intro to what a bot is which is a automated software program that can have a number of applications, the protest bot proposed in the article would highlight information related to whatever political cause the creator wanted.

Moving on is Slave Sales on Twitter, while shockingly not an online marketplace it is instead an article about an experiment run by a professor to show the frequency of slave sales in the antebellum south. To do this the author created a bot that tweeted every three minutes that a slave had been sold offering students a perspective on the extent of the slave trade. Additionally there is a defense of the bot against the accusation of trivializing history by stating that the experiment reiterates old information with current technology.

Next we have I Never the less am a Historian, the article is about the debate around the idea of black confederate soldiers and what the debate shows about public history in the digital age. The major theme is how individual prejudices are a major component of public history and how in the digital age the ease of posting information has lead to a wider debate in public history about who is a historian.

Second to last is The Historians Craft Popular Memory and Wikipedia about the impact of the worlds most successful online encyclopedia. Like the previous article it deals with the public’s ability to engage in the historical debate and how this spills over into wikipedia articles. Again the debate around formal training leads to the question of what one must do to be considered a historian.

At long last we have the final article Omeka in the Classroom. In the piece the issue shifts from the engagement of the public in history to the participation of historians in the field of digital history. Noting a lack of interest from students and as a result a lack of skill the article brings up how the historian of the future will need to work in the digital space and how the historians of the present have hesitation in joining the online community and how this will become more harmful to the study of history as time goes on.

Discussion Questions

  1. When critiquing digital copies of documents how realistic is it to expect access to original material
  2. What are acceptable practices when it comes to monetizing historical content
  3. What are some more positive examples of monetized history
  4. The value of a protest bot and how to convey information gathered by said bot
  5. Is there an ethical issue with slave sales on twitter
  6. What can twitter offer to the historian
  7. What are the risks of conveying historical opinions over 160 characters
  8. Who is or is not a historian
  9. What role does the institution play in qualifying oneself as a historian
  10. Should the historical community embrace Wikipedia and to what extent
  11. How to attract candidates to digital history
  12. Why is there hesitation toward digital history as a specialty


3 Digital History Critiques

For my first review I chose the Campus Buildings Historical Tour site. The site is designed for mass consumption i.e. the public and contains several pages detailing the past behind various buildings on both Albany’s current campus as well as sites that the university has used in the past. The pages are static displays of pictures and text with essentially no interactive elements which can limit the interactivity of the site. This means that the entertainment value of the site is near zero and with the limited amount of text means that anyone researching the architecture of the university will have to find additional sources.

Next I chose to review State Street Stories, this site also examines buildings and architecture around State Street in Albany. Compared to the first site State Street has a more appealing visual design than the first although this can be attributed to subjective taste in color schemes. Additionally the site contains a greater amount of information and expands beyond the actual buildings into the design and construction of State street. For the public the site contains the information necessary for a basic understanding of the topic proving the site serves its purpose effectively although for a more detailed university level research additional sources would be needed.

Finally the Invasion of America is a site dedicated to the expansion of the US into the lands of the native inhabitants. Unlike the first two sites Invasion contains an interactive feature, a map that shows the creation of the reservation system and the expansion of European settlers as time progresses. Beyond the map the site also contains a link to a 90 second YouTube video summarizing the thesis of the site. Despite the interactivity this site contains the least amount of content of the three with the map and the video containing no text to reinforce the information. In terms of educating the public the site can reinforce other sites with more detailed information but is other wise a limited resource.

Discussion Questions- Knowledge and Digital Humanities 2/9

The article Can Information Be Unfettered? Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon was written by Amy E Earhart who is an associate professor in the English department at Texas A&M University which a research interest specifically in digital humanities and African American literature. In this article Earhart discusses what the use of the Internet was intended to do for the humanities and the reality of what is currently happening in the field of digital humanities. Earhart also pays close attention to the relationship between digital humanities and people of color, which are topics that she is qualified to speak on given her background and research.

The article begins with a hopeful idea, “we imagined that the free access to materials on the web would allow those previously cut off from intellectual capital to gain materials and knowledge that might be leveraged to change the social position of people of color”. This hope is founded on the principals that that people would have access to technology and free information. The reality of the situation is that information isn’t free. Information already gathered is hidden by ‘pay walls’ of scholarly subscriptions, and grants for research disproportionately disadvantage people of color. Her article states that of the National Endowment of Humanities Digital Humanities Start Up Grants from 2007-2010 only slightly above 30% represented the research, preservation, and recovery of texts from diverse communities.

Earhart discusses the differences in the types of projects found in digital humanities. She explains that there are small-scale projects that although scholarly will mostly go unfunded; these small projects are completed by a single person to maybe a handful of cooperating people. There are large-scale projects that are the work of institutions like libraries and museums that are funded but focus on technological innovations in sharing information rather than recovery and preservation of texts. Earhart’s concern is with the consideration and representation of diverse communities and she has found that both small scale and large scale projects have fallen short. A large-scale project like MONK was focused on data-mining and did not include diverse data in its analysis and small-scale projects like those recovered by Alan Liu in the Voice of the Shuttle which had been focused on diverse communities have high levels of projects being ‘lost’ or ‘removed’. This raised a huge red flag for me as a reader, how can things get ‘lost’ online?  Earhart doesn’t answer this question, but instead gives a warning that people working in the digital humanities should be wary about the decline of textual recovery and the exclusion of a diverse community especially in the shift towards large-scale externally funded visualization projects.

 A theme of Earhart’s article that rings through the other reading and video is ‘knowledge’, the access to ‘knowledge’, and the creation of ‘knowledge’.  In Tim Sherratt’s article, Life on the Outside: Collection, Contexts, and the Wild Wild Web, he discusses Trove which is an online database that is maintained by the National Library of Australia and the multitude of ways it is utilized by the public. Trove itself is a collection of millions of newspaper articles from all around Australia spanning over 150 years. Through Sherratt’s research he found that Trove had been cited in everything from funny blogs to serious scholarly work. He uses these examples of Trove being cited along with his own ‘wall of faces’ he created from documents found in the National Archives of Australia to discuss the discriminatory Immmigration Restriction Act, and the hype following the upload of over a million public domain images by the Mechanical Curator to Flickr as a way to open up a conversation with libraries, museums, and archives. Sherratt uses his examples to encourage institutions like museums to share their resources and images more frequently and at no cost to the viewer. He acknowledges the fear that institutions have that their objects will be misused and misrepresented. Having said that, Sherratt also states that the goal of these institutions and their websites is engagement. Engagement between the past and the present and between these institutions and the public, both of which are important to the funding and future of the digital humanities.

The video, Is Google Knowledge?, looked into the questions of what knowledge is and how it is created. The video gave John Locke’s definition of knowledge which in very basic terms was that knowledge is the connection of ideas. It built off of this to discuss Google as ‘networked facts’ that are linked to related facts,  ideas, and conflicting theories. The video also discusses an interesting question if Google-learned knowledge is any less effective than book-learned knowledge. There wasn’t a real answer to this question in the video, but from the readings and the video it seems as though any resources online can be used to advance knowledge or they can be misused and misrepresented. 

Discussion Questions:


– Earhart discusses the issues of underrepresentation of diverse communities in digital humanities projects and sites one of the reasons being the loss and removal of projects online. I’m sure we have all heard a warning from a teacher, parent, or friend saying “once something is up on the internet it is there forever…” and if that is the case how can things get lost? Furthermore in representing diverse groups within our own research do historians have to include race, gender, and class to be considered as having ‘good coverage’ despite the research topic?

-Within the walls of a museum you can provide detailed information and context for the objects, and despite providing the public with the proper details and tools for representing the object there will be the occasional patron that will not understand the exhibit and may use the information incorrectly. That being said institutions do employ people to safeguard the objects and provide the best possible explanation. Do we treat online archives similarly to an in-person exhibit?  For the security and integrity of these cultural objects, should institutions interact with people misusing their material online? 

-In the video, Is Google Knowledge, it brought up the concept of constructing knowledge and how it must change with technology. Are tags, databases, networks, etc. now vital to the way we learn and connect ideas? In terms of creating resources to educate the public, how much can you assume they know about technology? What is the line between providing the best technology and remaining user friendly?  


Digital Humanities





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