J Cassidy Project Proposal

In the nineteenth century immigration to the United States progressively increased and compared to the previous centuries the locations that these new arrivals arrived from shifted both geographically and more concerning to more prejudicial elements in the US religiously. While anti-Semitism toward Jewish immigrants were definitely present this trend was most active in the last decades of the century and a trend that stretched further back was the apprehension about Catholic immigration to the United States particularly the Catholic immigrants from Ireland. The theory they based their ideology was that these waves of Catholic immigrants would overwhelm the native protestants and fundamentally alter the culture of the United States (and also establish a Catholic theocracy but as that obviously did not happen this paper will just focus on the population shift) and with the population data available including the 1855 census, the 1915 state census, and finally NY religion by county to determine if this prophecy came to pass (without their bias that such a population shift would be inevitably bad). The census data consists of excel spread sheets with the critical national origin data and the religion piece consists of spreadsheet data which will be mined for data relating to Catholicism. To gauge this theory the censuses will be gauged to determine the number of Irish immigrants and compare how much of a percentage of the overall area population to show immigration to the area from Ireland and then use the religion by county map to show how Catholicism spread across New York as a test case for the rest of the US.


The first question is why Irish immigrants to test this theorem and how it is or is not a stereotype to categorize said immigrants as inherently Catholic and that Irish immigration begins in the nineteenth century, both of these two facts in a vacuum are of course false but in context they hold a number of truths. In regards to the Catholic nature of the Irish the timing of said immigration is crucial, prior to the mid nineteenth century Irish immigration to the United States absolutely existed and these first Irish Americans have notable contributions to the colonial period as well as early American history there was a massive demographic as well as numeric shift at the mid point of the nineteenth century. In the 1840’s the potato crop in Ireland was hit by pestilence which lead to the Potato Famine which devastated the population with both death from starvation as well as prompting a mass exodus of individuals from Ireland primarily to Great Britain and the United States. In regards to geography this exodus included individuals from across Ireland which is important because in Ireland religion and geography are closely linked, Northern Ireland which following the partition of Ireland when the country gained its independence from Britain became the country of Northern Ireland (I think it was a little unorthodox but to each their own). How religion plays into this is that the northern areas of the country have majority protestant populations as opposed to the overwhelmingly Catholic southern portion of Ireland. How this ties back to America is that prior to the Potato Famine many of the first Irish immigrants came from the protestant north but the famine saw masses from the Catholic south depart for America marking the influx of Irish Catholics and also explaining why the data sets I chose to use being in the 1850’s and why I choose Irish immigrants as opposed to other largely Catholic populations such as Italians or Poles as Irish immigration began earlier and thus yields a wider data set to compare.


With the reasons behind my choice of figures established as well as the original question that lead to my choice in data sets and methodology what is left is to present how the data will be used to present the findings for the analysis. The two data sets that matter to the analysis are the Irish population seen in the censuses and the Catholic population within New York and to present these the two items that will cleanly and effectively lay out the conclusions are a series of charts show dispersion of population percentages and then a timeline graph showing the rates of immigration overtime which might require looking up additional immigration statistics but this will be determined later. Finally what the religions data set may reveal is how Catholic immigrants moved from the coastal entrance centers to the United States which for our state would mean New York City to the rest of the state.

Matthew Chamberlain Project Proposal

The dataset I will be working with is “Slave Sales: 1775-1865”. The data set describes the people in slavery, giving the viewer a description of where the sale posting is from, the gender of said person, the approximate age of the slave(there are some issues with this, but I’ll describe them later), any “defects”, pertinent skill, and the price of the person.

The dataset includes information that is numeric, textual, and geographic. There are thousands of people in this list from mostly Southern States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. To differentiate the states, various counties are also included, and these seem to have some importance as to where slaves with certain skills are sold. In terms of numeric values, these fit into the appraised value and age columns. The minimum values for both zero, but the maximums vary greatly. While the maximum age can go up to 99 (which is probably a reporting error of some sort due to the fact that it is unlikely that someone could live to that age during this time period), the price for a person depends on skills and other factors, and the highest price for an individual thousands of dollars (again, there was one outlier, with one listing reading 525,000, which would be more than $7 million when adjusted for inflation). The range of descriptive data also varies greatly. Gender is probably the easiest to describe as it follows a binary system, male or female. Skills, however, are either left blank, or provide only a little information about the person, saying that a slave is a laborer/field-hand, or on the other side of the spectrum, a mechanic. Then there are defects, which also account for a lot of blank spaces. These descriptors can describe real ailments such as a hernia, or crippling injuries, or just state superfluous information, like whether or not the slave is a boy, or a girl, even though it’s already listed.

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Project Proposal-Slave Sales 1775-1865

The data set I have chosen to use for my data analysis project is “Slave Sales 1775-1865”. The data included in this set includes, state and county in which a transaction took place and the gender and appraised value of an individual being sold from the Revolutionary period to the close of the Civil War and after emancipation. Other information included in this data set is skills and any physical “defect” found in a particular person. As far as types of data, there is numeric, text, and geographic information included, which makes this a particularly detailed study. The geographic landscape shown within the data places the transactions were recorded in southern states,a fact that is not surprising. This is a substantial set of data, with over 76,000 entries, so it will definitely require more narrowing of scope and number. I think that perhaps using a sample of just the 1810s-1860s, or maybe an even narrower range, perhaps 1850-1865 would be the project more cohesive.

Each column paints a particular picture of a time and place in the development of the institution of slavery in the south, and the literal human cost. Each of the rows plays an important role in forming the narrative of the dataset. From each state and county within the state, the people being bought and sold are described in the very simplest of terms, as they are no different than any other commodity bought and sold on a daily basis. We get an age, in years and months both and gender. We also know if any of these persons had special skills that could make them particularly more sought after. These include cooks and cabinetmakers, even drivers. Finally, the defects of a certain person are also recorded. Many are marked as “crippled” or old. Perhaps most interesting and disturbing is that “child” is considered a defect.

There are some relationships that come to the surface in analyzing this dataset. One that immediately comes to mind is that between skills and appraised value. It seems that those with skills did seem to be more expensive than someone who was unskilled, or perhaps a woman. Which brings another relationship worth exploring-the relationship between gender and appraised price. Did women necessarily fetch a much lower or a comparative price during sales transactions.
A third relationship that could yield interesting results and research questions is that between states and number of slave sales. In the south, did one state conduct more sales than others, or were they all near average? In looking at the data, the years and decades of the sales could also prove to show interesting conclusions. Of course a drop off in slave sales could be seen in during the Civil war, but what about before than. What sales were made during the early decades of the 1800s? I think that these relationships could effectively be shown graphically, but also using a progression map. By making this dataset interactive, the viewer can more effectively make use of the information presented.
Some difficulties that can arise when analyzing and answering these would probably come from the data itself. Though this is quite a large sample, it isn’t as detailed as other sets.There is only basic information available (ie. gender,age) that does not, on the surface create a well rounded narrative.I feel that information such as where these enslaved people came from or even a name could tell us more and create better visuals. Another difficulty is in the fact that some of the entries are missing, perhaps a problem of transcription or simply loss of records.

Project Proposal: Albany 8th Militia, ethnicity/complexion and officers

The dataset I’ve chosen to work with is the Albany Muster Rolls 8th Militia dataset. It is a census of recruits for the Revolutionary war in the early 1760s, and is a textual dataset. There are a total of 944 men listed in this dataset, with 13 categories filled out. These categories include last name, first name, enlist date, age, where the recruit was born, what their previous occupation was, whose command they were under, their physical attributes, and what volume and page their information could be found on in the physical text.

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Project Proposal: Albany Muster Roll- 8th Militia

The data set that I will be using for the final project is the Albany Muster Rolls for the 8th Militia. This set includes important numeric and text information of 945 different men were enlisted in this local militia. Organizes by name the categories of collected information include each individual’s enlistment date, age, Militia Company, and trade. Additional information that is particularly interesting to me is the physical descriptions of these Albany men and how they relate to their place of birth. Descriptions include height, complexion, hair color, and eye color.

I believe that this data set can help discuss the construction of race in the mind of the individual that collected the muster roll. My goal is to create a visual representation of the connection between Birth Place and Complexion in order to discuss the construction of race. I will also be attempting to draw a connection between race and trade. I think it would also be interesting to look at the connection that birthplace and complexion may have on which officer they reported to in order to detect any forms of segregation based on ethnicity

There are some challenges in working with the Albany Muster Roll for the 8th Militia in that the labeling of complexion is subjective to the individual that collected the data and the terms that this individual used include: dark, swarthy, fair, brown, Indian, negro, pockpitted, freckled, mulatto, and ruddy. These terms are far from standardized and I will be interested to see if there is a clear connection to their birth origins. Another issue that I cannot ignore is the high levels of men listed as ‘laborers’, which again does not give me a clear idea of their trade. What that does tell me is that there pay be some significant importance of the trades that are specified such as: tailor, carpenter, shoemaker, weaver, butcher, blacksmith, saddler, cord winder, hatter, and others. Through the mindset of a militia these skills have deep value; or at least value to the man collecting the information. As far as the visualizations, it will be a challenge to give a full depiction of these large categories of race, trade, and origin while maintaining the legibility of the visualizations. I think relationship networks may prove useful for this project.

Cool Stuff Week

 Where to Start? On Research Questions in The Digital Humanities

This article considers methods for developing research questions in the field of digital humanities, and attempts to answer the question of whether a research question should be posed first, and then a digital tool should be found that can display the answer to that question, or if a tool used in digital humanities (giphy, etc) should be decided upon, and then a research topic that can be best answered through that tool should be chosen. The author of the article, Trevor Owens, states his belief that a research question should be the first aspect of a project to be developed, as it is the reference point around which any project is based. He also states that research questions often change as a project progresses, implying that choosing a research question based on a specific tool would be ineffective since the question is likely to change along the way. He goes on to suggest that digital humanities tools can be instrumental in invalidating research questions, and are, therefore, an integral part of the research process, not the element around which a research project should be based.

How to Get a Digital Humanities Project Off the Ground

This article evaluates potential first steps in the process of beginning a digital humanities project. The author, Paige Morgan, like Trevor Owens, states that research questions are subject to change, so graduate students doing these projects should avoid trying to connect them to their dissertations. The author also suggests identifying any potential issues early on in order to avoid them stopping a project in its tracks after substantial time has been put into research, as well as to do the proper research to insure that there are no similar projects. If there are, that does not necessarily the end of a project, as they can take different approaches and end up with varying results. On that note, Morgan also suggests to individually take varying approaches, including experimenting with different platforms. The one point on which Morgan seems conflicted is whether to make a digital humanities project that is in process public in order to gain feedback due to the risk of plagiarism.

You Got the Documents. Now What?

In this article, author Jonathan Stray identifies the best methods for extracting data from documents. He states that the first step in doing this is to take paper documents and turn them into digital documents, thus making them easier to share and analyze. It is also emphasized that  they must be converted into text documents, as pdf’s and images are not good for much more than reading on a screen. Thus, it is important to remember that digital tools used for analyzing data are not compatible with pdf’s. Throughout the article, Stray repeatedly highlights the stark contrast between documents and data. Additionally, the point is accentuated that, whenever possible, data analysis should be automated, and not manual. In order to make that easier, Stray recommends gaining familiarity with the many functions various tools used in analyzing and visualizing data. The tools suggested by the author are Overview and DocumentCloud, which he states should be used for publication.


Twine is a digital program that allows users to create interactive stories. As demonstrated by the samples of games (I played ‘Sewer Diamond War of 3096 Reenactment’ and ‘Happiness Simulator’) and it is basically like using an interactive flowchart with if/then questions. Twine is something that could be potentially used for displaying, though not necessarily analyzing, data.

Physical Computing

An Arduino is a type of small computer that can be programmed in order to create interactive museum exhibits while remaining unseen by visitors. Unlike larger computers used to program exhibits, which can run a few thousand dollars, Arduino starts at just $30. A major benefit of Arduino seems to be its compatibility with numerous types of exhibits, as it is cited as having been used in science exhibits relating to brain usage and the weight of human compared to dinosaurs, as well as art exhibits that can move independently or interact with visitors, blurring the lines “between art and robotics.’ In addition to creating cutting edge exhibits inexpensively, Alicia M. Gibbs’ article states the Arduino can be instrumental in improving the preservation process, as exhibits can be saved digitally.

3D Printing

“Please Feel the Museum: The Emergence of 3D Printing and Scanning” discusses the fact that the advent of 3D printing art and objects can be cost effective for museums creating exhibits, as 3D printed replicas of objects can be created that visitors can touch and otherwise interact with. However, the article expands beyond museums, stating that 3D printing can be instrumental in teaching in a hands-on manner, which can be beneficial considering the extent to which ‘interactive’ learning occurs in front of a screen. The article also implies that 3D printing can protect museum objects, as visitors will often photograph them in order to examine them more closely later on. However, with 3D replicas of museum collections, visitors can examine objects as closely as possible while still in the museum. 3D printing can also teach professionals to look more closely at objects and artwork, as creating a 3D replica is achieved through photogrammetry, which involve photographing the objects from every possible angle. Mistakes and missed angles in a final product can spur further analysis of the objects. Additionally, the ability to make replicas of museum collections through 3D printing can allow the same object to be displayed to the public at different museums simultaneously.
In “Harvard’s 3D-Printing Archaeologists Fix Ancient Artifacts,” author Joseph Flaherty discusses the practice of photomodelling, through which sculpture fragments can be photographed and recreated through 3D printing. This technology can not only essentially revive art and objects from the dead, but can also potentially be used in fields such as forensics. The Smithsonian’s online 3D art exhibit allows for close examination of museum objects from the comfort of any computer. The 3D models available on the website show the color, texture, and imperfections of objects, and can be turned, adjusted, and scrutinized at any angle. This could be a major step for research, as grant money could potentially be saved through students being able to review items in the collections of far away museums and institutions from home.


1.) How effective would a 3D exhibit in a museum really be? Would people be less likely to want to visit if 3D replicas of objects are being displayed rather than the originals?

2.) Would having 3D interactive exhibits available online (such as the Smithsonian) reduce actual visitation to museums?

3.) How could 3D printing and Arduinos help historic house museums and other historic sites?

4.) Can interactive exhibits or Arduinos survive in the long run? After their novelty has worn off, will they still be as interesting or valuable as art and other objects from the past?

Final Project- Walking/ Driving Tour of Former Movie Theaters in Albany

Identify your theme and how it is unique from the existing tours of Albany Walks for Health. What are the closest related tours? How does your tour differ from the related tours?

The theme of my walking tour will be the exploration of the former sites of the plethora of palatial movie theaters that once existed in Albany, New York. Although many of the locations that will be included on the tour were still occupied by the movie theaters in question as recently as the 1980’s, the change in the way in which movie theaters appeared and were operated over the past hundred years will be made evident through descriptions of the bygone theaters compared to the contemporary theaters with which participants on the tour are familiar. This theme is unique from the existing tours on Albany Walks for Health as movie theaters are significantly more modern than the themes on the Walks for Health, which predominantly span from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Additionally, due to the nature of this project, the locations on my tour, unlike an abundance of the locations on the Walks for Health, are no longer existent.
The closest related tour on the Albany Walks for Health to the tour that I am going to create is Tour #7: Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany. Unlike most of the other tours on the Walks for Health, ‘Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany’ takes participants to more contemporary locations, such as the Egg, which was built in the 1960’s, and the Times Union Center, which was not even constructed until 1990. Additionally, both my tour and ‘Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany’ appertain to leisure activities enjoyed by Albany residents and visitors. Unlike ‘Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany,’ which includes a variety of types of entertainment venues, such as theaters (the Palace Theater, Park Playhouse) and concert halls (the Washington Armory) my tour will only feature locations that were once movie theaters. Another tour featured in Albany Walks for Health that is similar to my movie theaters tour is ‘The Leisures of Albany.’ Like ‘Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany,’ ‘The Leisures of Albany’ is homologous to my tour because it is about recreational activities in Albany. Also like “Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany,’ ‘The Leisures of Albany’ features locations for an assortment of leisure activities, including theaters such as the Palace Theater and parks such as Washington Park, and museums such as the Albany Institute of History and Art, whereas my tour will only contain movie theaters.

What is the organizing theme or story for your tour? Who is the audience for this tour? What’s the big takeaway point that the visitor will get from your tour?

Since movie theaters began to emerge in the final years of the nineteenth century, they have grown into one of the most popular and prominent venues in the entertainment industry. The multi-screen movie theaters that we know today, often operated by a chain (Regal, AMC, etc) deviate greatly from those that existed up until even the mid to late twentieth century. Older movie theaters, also called ‘cinemas’ or ‘movie houses,’ were formerly built to create a memorable overall experience that extended beyond the viewing of a film. They would often include ornate architecture, sumptuous lounges, and one large theater. This tour will explore the many opulent theaters that once existed in Albany, but were closed down in lieu of theaters that boasted multiple screens and that were able to show more movies to more people simultaneously. Additionally, many of the theaters on this tour are further tied to Albany’s history  as they were named after locations or prominent figures in Albany’s history.
This tour is geared towards Albany residents. Participants who have grown up in Albany may be interested to learn about the sheer number of now unassuming locations that once housed movie theaters. In addition, older Albany residents can enjoy the nostalgia of visiting the sites of theaters that they might have frequented in times past.
Participants on this tour should come away with a better understanding of how the notion of what defines a movie theater has changed over time. Many people are already aware (and, if not, will be informed on the tour) that the modern movie theater evolved from Vaudeville theaters. Through reading about movie theaters that once existed in familiar locations in Albany, participants taking this tour can attain a greater level of comprehension regarding the early incarnations of movie theaters and the fact that they were the midpoint between the exalted Vaudeville theaters of the nineteenth century and the utilitarian theaters with which we are familiar today. Additionally, participants of this tour will be able to glimpse into Albany’s history by showing them the different way in which people of the past engaged in a familiar activity in a familiar place.

Identify at least four potential locations. Briefly describe the historical location and what is currently at that location.

1.) Hellman Movie Theater– Located at 1365 Washington Avenue in Albany, the Hellman Movie Theater was constructed in 1960. Art deco in style, the theater originally featured a lobby, lounge and single screen, though it was divided into two screen during the 1980’s after being taken over by United Artists. The theater was built by Neil Hellman, also known for building the Neil Hellman Library at the College of Saint Rose, and is named as a memorial to his father, Harry Hellman. The Hellman Theater was demolished in 1989, and the site in which it once stood is now occupied by the Washington Center for Medical Arts, which leases office space to various medical practices.

2.) Eagle Movie Theater– Opened in 1928 on Hudson Avenue and Eagle Street (for which it is named) in Albany, the Eagle Movie Theater was housed in a defunct arsenal that was constructed in 1858. In 1938, the theater was remodeled an reopened as the ‘New Eagle Theater.’ The theater operated for three decades as a popular entertainment venue with a single screen and 830 seats. However, a decline in attendance in the 1950’s led to the theater staying in business through an agreement with local schools to show children’s specials on Saturday afternoons. In 1962, the state of New York acquired the site through eminent domain, and it was demolished in order to construct the South Mall arterial of the Empire State Plaza. The site is now occupied by the Albany County Probation Department.

3.) Harmanus Bleecker Hall– Opened in 1888 and named for attorney, congressman, and foreign ambassador, Harmanus Bleecker, Harmanus Bleecker Hall was originally opened as a regular theater. However, in 1929 it was remodeled to become a single screen motion picture theater with 2,070 seats. This sumptuous theater was decorated with tones of brown and gold that were highlighted with shades of blue red and green. Unfortunately, the theater, which was located at 331 Delaware Avenue in Albany, was destroyed in a fire on May 6, 1940. The site, which is now occupied by the Delaware Branch of the Albany Public Library, is nearby the still operational Spectrum 8 Theaters, which was opened soon after the fire that destroyed Harmanus Bleecker hall.

4.) Ritz Movie Theater– Located in a former jailhouse at 21 South Pearl Street in Albany, the Ritz Movie Theater first opened in the 1920’s. In 1941, the theater was purchased and operated by Warner Brothers. This single screen, 1,125 seat theater began to decline in popularity once the majority of households began acquiring televisions. Like the Eagle Movie Theater, the Ritz Movie Theater was ultimately demolished to make way for the construction of the Empire State Plaza. The Times Union Center now stands on its former site.

5.) Leland Movie Theater– Located at 43 South Pearl Street in Albany, the Leland Theater replaced the Trimble Opera House that was destroyed in a fire during the mid-nineteenth century. It was reopened in 1873 as the Leland Opera House, and was converted for Vaudeville and movies in 1906 and renamed the Leland Theater. With one screen and 1,350 seat, the Leland Theater remained popular until, like the Trimble Opera House before it, it was destroyed in a fire in the early 1960’s. It’s former location is now occupied by apartment and office space.