Final Project– Albany 8th Militia Visualizations

The title of the data set is Albany Muster Rolls 8th Militia. This set includes important numeric and text information for 945 men who enlisted in the Albany 8th Militia between the years 1760-1762. Organized by first and last name; the remaining categories include the following: enlistment date, age, birth-place, trade, company, officer, stature (height), complexion, eye color, and hair color. A muster roll is an official list of enlisted soldiers in a military company–in this case the Albany 8th Militia. The information that goes into creating a muster roll has changed over time, but in its most general form it tells the reader who served. These types of documents are used across the board for all forms of military service. Different from a standing army, a militia is an armed group of civilian soldiers who’s work is intended to supplement the army (webster dictionary). The militia is also called into actions in times of emergency.

A large portion of this muster roll is physical characteristics; showing how it is a useful tool for identification purposes. Eye color, hair color, and age all give an idea of what a specific enlisted man may look like, and the labeling of complexion are in descriptive categories of appearance having categories that describe freckles, red patches, and acne scars along with skin tone. Along with how to identify an individual by looks, is which company they serve in and the skills or trade they use to assist in the actions of their company.

This data set has a wealth of information, but it is not without its faults. The company is frequently left blank, and for best results I focused on their commanding officer. The data also has misspellings and unfamiliar and unstandardized terms used.

When working with this data it is important to keep in mind subjectivity, this list was most likely created by the militias quartermaster. The data does not give us any information about this individual and how personal opinions may have impacted the way he collected and organized this data. It is possible that it altered the way he viewed race through complexion or valued certain trades over others. It is also unknown if the terms were standard across other Albany militias or unique to this specific quartermaster.


I had originally planned to create create a network visualization using the software Gephi. In order to prep the data to be used in Gephi I created a new spreadsheet organized by ‘source’ and ‘target’ This was a two column running list of repeating names with the coordinating age, trade, birthplace, complexion, and commanding officer to each name. Unfortunately, I ran into issues downloading the software as my MacBook Air was not compatible with older versions of Gephi. I also attempted to use Palladio and ran into similar issues. After giving up on Gephi, I attempted to clean the data using Open Refine. I specifically wanted to reorganize the way that the enlistment date was set up in the CSV. I again ran into technical issues in both editing and inputting my cleaned data. After a long struggle with computers, the internet, and my tolerance threshold for technological issues I began working with TableauPublic. In TableauPublic I cleaned my data. For birthplace I grouped to the best of my ability all of the enlisted men that were born in the Americas and separately grouped those born in regions like France, England, Ireland, and Germany. The intention was to get a sense of how many men were native-born and how many had immigrated. I did run into some difficulties and was unable to group places that I could not find on a modern map or through my research. I want to make it clear that because of that, my visualizations are a loose representation of the muster roll and not precise in terms of birthplace. Other sections that I grouped like trade were far more straight forward.


Highlighted in this first visualization is the ratio of native-born versus foreign-born men serving in the Albany 8th Militia.

The regions are listed on the left and the tallied number listed on the right. I also used the gradient of green colors on the numbers to display from which regions most of the men originally came from. Again, the challenge with this specific visualization are the number of birthplaces listed that are potentially areas of other countries that I was unable to locate using a map or through my research of mid-eighteenth century geography. The benefit of this visualization is the stark numbers that show the high population of Irish, German, and English born men serving in the Albany 8th Militia.


In my initial proposal for this project I had intended to look at the construction of race through the eyes of the quartermaster, but given the lack of standardized terms and no information about the quartermaster himself I was unable to. From working with the data, it seems as though the intention of the quartermaster to include complexion was for the purpose of a clear description of appearance and not a societal statement or class commentary. For example, the term ‘pock pitted’ which is used to describe a handful of individuals refers to an individual with acne or facial scars. Men were listed as ‘freckled’, another purely descriptive word for appearances. Some men are also listed as having red patches on their skin under the terms ‘ready, ruddy, reddy’ which does’t speak to their ethnicity or social class or any means to understand the complex construction of race. Even though it cannot answer my questions on race, it is interesting the tones and textures that this individual quartermaster made note of for the muster roll. The pie chart below shows the breakdown of complexion in this data set.


Just to be sure I wasn’t missing a racial or class component I made a text table showing the connection, or lack there of, between birthplace and complexion. As you can see there wasn’t a direct link to point to racial construction based on location of birth.

Not only can we not discuss the constructs of race, but there is also no connection to say that men of different skin tones were separated into different companies. To prove this I created another text table showing how difference complexions were dispersed throughout the militia.


Moving away from the complexion component, I wanted to focus on questions that the data could answer. One of which was: What trades were important to the Albany 8th Militia? Laborer was the overall most used term under the category of trade which seemed rather vague. In order to look at more specific skills I intentionally hid that information and created packed bubble visualization of the other trades. The size of the bubble shows the amount of individuals listed under that trade.

I then wanted to see how these trades were dispersed among the militia in order to see if there was a pattern or if it was at random. Using the packed bubble visualization for trade I looked at the most popular trades listed: tailor, carpenter, weaver, cordwinder, baker, butcher, shoemaker among others. I then made another packed bubble visualization showing how many militiamen each commanding officer had. That visualization is below.

I could now look at the largest companies based on how many enlisted men were under the command of a specific officer. Given this information I then  created a text table showing what trades were listed under the four largest companies of the Albany 8th Militia.

What this shows, is that for a militia company to run as intended they need the men of that company must be equiped with some specific skills. The men had to create and maintain their resources. It was vital to the militia to have individuals to create and repair clothes and shoes. Another necessity was feeding the militia, so each company had butchers and bakers. What is interesting are the jobs that not all four of the largest companies have; all but one of the largest companies had sailors. Captain Baine who has the second largest group of enlisted men under his command was not supplied with seamen, which may point to the skills of that captain or location of that company. It is possible that they were knowingly landlocked in their movements and that sailors would be most useful serving under another officer.


As my interest in trade peaked, I went on to look at the relationship between trade and birthplace to see if there were any connections of what type of skills came from which regions of the world. This time I included the largest category of laborers in the visualization. Using a text table with birthplace on the left and trade listed on the right, I used colored blocks to symbolize the amount by size of men with each trade. Other than laborers which nearly every region provided it was interesting to see that the men of the Albany 8th Militia that were born in the colonies were cord winders, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Men from Germany were often bakers and butchers. Ireland provided weavers and tailors. There is a significant amount of overlap of types of jobs coming from different countries but it is significant to see the variety.


The biggest take-away from the research and work done with the Albany 8th Militia data set are the importance of skilled tradesmen to the militia effort, and that importance was clearly recognized by the quartermaster who collected this data. Intentionally men with different skills were strategically placed in companies that would benefit. Where the placement of skilled workers seems deliberate, the terms and placement of men based on birthplace or complexion seem at random. Again, despite my initial research questions, I found that there wasn’t a clear connection between complexion and trade, complexion and birth place, or complexion and company. Due to these findings, I focused primarily on creating visuals to represent the make up of the militia and specifically the largest companies focusing on trade, complexion, and birthplace. It shows the diversity of the companies and the importance of dividing skills amongst the companies to ensure that each group has men skilled in different areas. For example all of the largest companies have tailors, bakers, and blacksmiths. I found it interesting that the quartermaster was clearly tedious and specific in gathering individuals trade information and less structured with other topics, i.e. complexion.


Working with this muster roll I felt like I knew who these men were, what they looked like, and the jobs they performed in the militia. I wanted to build a context of history and look into why they came to the Albany area and why these men enlisted. My outside research looked at the time period and conditions of Albany in the mid eighteenth century. The geographical location of Albany gave the city importance, being on both the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers it was an important region for trade and communication within the area and most notably with New York City.  My outside research goes back before the enlistment date of the men of the Albany 8th Militia in order to understand the climate of the time. In 1753 colonial leaders began to recognize that the colonies needed their own military and political organizations and talks began about uniting the colonies in support of one another. This would be in stark contrast from their position relying on British forces for protection against French and their Native American allies. These types of discreet discussions were held in meeting houses around the colonies and were brought to the general publics attention during the Albany Congress of 1754 and creation of the Albany Plan of Union. The Albany Plan of Union, developed by Benjamin Franklin, was brought to the Albany Congress on July 10th, 1754 in front of representatives from many of the Thirteen Colonies. Unification of the colonies in against military threats were in the foremost minds of colonial leaders due to the direct impacts seen by the French and Indian War. This plan and the beginnings of war on the North American front were turing points for the history of the Thirteen Colonies, but for Albany especially due to its location in the north. In 1755, militias were being formed in Albany to march on the French fort in Crown Point by Lake Champlain. The local militias were supplemental to the British army, but still incredibly important to the war effort. During this time militias had large number of men who worked the land forcing marches north to wait until after the spring planting season. Waiting until late spring was beneficial for argiculture and it also allowed militia men to travel with more ease avoiding the snowy and muddy roads of late winter and early spring. The muster roll for the Albany 8th militia shows that between the years of enlistment all of the men enlisted during the spring months of 1760-1762. Most of those men’s trades were not specified as farmers, it is likely that their work was still impacted by the planting and harvesting seasons. Undoubtably agriculture was vital for the whole of the Albany community as they relied on steady access to resources for the community, militias, and British troops quartered in the city.


During the throes of the French and Indian War, Albany with its fortifications and hospital would see the population grow with troops, displaced refugees, and wartime survivors migrating into the region. Albany became a headquarters for the British and meeting grounds for their troops and supplemental local militias to convene before marching north on the French. Albany was also a supply port for these groups moving goods and information down the rivers. Supplies moved through Albany to forts in Lake George and Oswego. For soldiers that fell wounded or ill, Albany had the best access to medical treatment in the region. Between the war efforts and an influx of individuals moving closer to the protection of the area, the service industry grew and began to alter the local economy. The war grew an industry and Albany became a hub of activity and strategy. After a massacre in Lake George, when Fort William Henry fell, William Pitt helped to form the largest army of its time in North America to assemble in Albany. Everyones lives in the region would be touched by the war, and joining the fight was heavily encouraged. Any man living in Albany during the French and Indian War would feel this pressure. In 1759, the French were defeated and their Iroquois allies lost some political standing in the region. After the victories at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, French troops were mostly pushed out of the Albany region and fighting dwindled down to a halt. Overall the colonists of Albany saw themselves as English and a local effort was made to integrate the prevalent Dutch and English cultures. Despite this cultural attachment, local colonists grew weary of the power British troops had gained. Quartered and stationed throughout Albany, there were clearly connections between the troops and civilians living in the region. In this postwar period, one can assume the colonists were happy to be free of the French threat but also increasingly aware of a building tension between the British troops and colonists. Restrictions and taxations were placed on colonists by the British crown and enforced by troops, and unlike other foreign threats, this was embedded among them.


The experiences of the French and Indian War for Albany was altering for the region, and especially for its militia men. These citizen soldiers would be organizing and training themselves for a revolution on the horizon that they may have not seen coming. During these years they gained military experience and local leaders that would help build up the foundation of the Albany region. The French and Indian War also changed the economic climate with an increased service industry and increased trade. The political and official end of the war was seen in 1763 when the Treaty of Paris was signed, but it was only two short years later that the Stamp Act was introduced to the colonies and the rumblings of revolution were well underway. From the 1754 Albany Plan of Union through the Stamp Act of 1765, the men of Albany’s 8th Militia lived in a world with military and political tensions.


Bielinski, Stefan. “Who Fought the War.” Who Fought the War. September 10, 2001. Accessed May 07, 2016.


Opalka, Anthony. “Albany: One of America’s First Cities.” One of America’s First Cities: Colonial Albany – Oldest US Museums. Accessed May 07, 2016.


McEneny, John J., Dennis Holzman, and Robert W. Arnold. Albany, Capital City on the Hudson: An Illustrated History. Sun Valley, CA: American Historical Press, 1998.

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.

Albany and the Hudson

During the 19th century, Albany New York had an important and growing relationship with its waterfront on the Hudson River. This relationship helped to change not only the city of Albany, but the nation as well. The river provided inspiration to artists, power for factories, connection to politics, and the transportation for travel and trade. With the development of infrastructure during the 19th century, most notably for this topic the creation and completion of the Erie Canal, Albany became a hub of connectivity. Within a block from the waterfront were some of the most important banks, businesses, and transportation centers of the time. The 19th century was most certainly the peak of this relationship between river and residents for Albany. Now, for many local residents, the waterfront is mostly inaccessible and the ruins of formerly booming industries litter the banks of the river. There has been a push to rebuild the waterfront and reestablish that relationship. The history of the Hudson River in Albany is important on a local and national level, and if the relationship is to be restored the people should be aware of the milestones and changes that were created and amplified by this connection.
One of the most large scale impacts in which the Hudson River played a role is discussed in John Larson’s book, The Market Revolution, in the chapter ‘Marvelous Improvements Everywhere’ in which Larson discusses the creation of the Erie Canal and how the connection of waterways in New York State was able to impact the way goods were produced and shipped nationwide. Goods that had previously gone to local markets could now be distributed with the entire Atlantic world, which meant that goods from the American interior went from local markets to global markets. The Erie Canal allowed goods to be shipped quickly and inexpensively. This helped to create a commercial industrial economy that changed the face of the nation. Larson quotes important American leaders like Thomas Jefferson on the success of the Erie Canal stating that, “Thomas Jefferson thought the Erie Canal would bless New York’s” decedents with wealth and prosperity” while proving to “mankind the superior wisdom of employing the resources of industry in works of improvement”. (Page 50) Larson goes on to say that ambitious men and women during the 19th century ‘flocked’ to Upstate New York to benefit from the access to markets, trade, and travel that region provided. In Albany, the market for transportation boomed. The waterfront had steamships running on a regular schedule, and similarly a block away from the waterfront Albany’s Union stations had railroads connecting the state. This competition for travel methods would drive costs down. After the construction of the Erie Canal the market for local companies expanded and allowed them to trade on a larger scale and compete with more companies along the Hudson. Places like Beverwyck Brewing Company and Albany Lumber saw their sales expand. Larson’s book discusses the origins of the Market Revolution in America and the technological advancements seen early on in New York State but continues with how the revolution spread throughout the nation and how the Market Revolution’s deep roots connect to the economic structure of modern day.
Building on to the origins of the Market Revolution, the advancements in the technology for travel, trade, and communication are discussed in John McEneny’s book Albany: The Capital City on the Hudson. McEneny discusses how Albany was at the forefront of these advancements. He discusses Robert Fulton’s steamship the Clermont and its journey from New York City to Albany as a display of power. The Clermont would be the “first commercially successful steamboat” having a regular scheduled service carrying passengers between the two cities. (Page 92) McEneny credits steamships and the canal to Albany’s advancement in a similar way that Larson had in his book. However, McEneny also cites the early installation of the telegraph in 1845 and the strong railroad system at the time for improving not only Albany’s economic power but political position as well. McEneny states on page 134, “… at the crossroads of both commercial and political traffic between New York City, Montreal, Buffalo, and Boston, whether by land or waterway, Albany played a vital role in the development of the state of New York. It has frequently taken an important part in national politics as well…”. Through McEneny’s chronological narrative he is able to discuss the long history of local peoples connection to the Hudson River dating back to indigenous tribes and stretching into the 21st century. While the first half of the book explains the patterns of settlement, the importance of the Hudson River, and the advancements in technology that assisted in Albany’s growth; the second half of the book focuses on politics by century in the city of Albany. Although not expressly explained, one can see through the McEneny’s work that the relationship between the residents and the river looses its importance throughout the 20th century.
In the book Wedding the Waters by Peter Bernstein he is able to combine the local importance that McEneny captures with the national significance that Larson discussed. Bernstein explains the impact of trade and transportation on the Hudson River and on the Erie Canal had on Albany’s industrial boom. Beyond the numbers that show the outward impact on the nations economic system, he is able to show the spirit of Albany and how quickly residents understood the importance of the canal. Immediately following the completion of the Erie Canal, local residents lined the banks of the river to celebrate. Bernstein quotes on page 274 Cadwallader D. Colden who said, “The pencil could not do justice to the scene presented on the fine autumnal morning when the Albany lock was first opened”. Bernstein goes on to say, “The crowds filled the windows and the tops of houses, jammed the open spaces in the fields, and lined the banks of the canals for a number of miles”. In Wedding the Waters, Bernstein truly captures the grandness of small-scale impact on Albany.
Clearly the Hudson River was important to more than just the people who worked on the water and for more reasons than the Erie Canal. While not solely focused on Albany in David Schuyler’s book Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909 is able to capture the ways in which the Hudson River impacted the culture of America beyond trade and transportation. The Hudson River became a muse for the arts during the 19th century, which inspired famous works that would shape a national identity. Schuyler’s book looks into the paintings of the Hudson River School who’s movement of landscape paintings was the first American art movement. He goes on to depict the impact that small towns on the Hudson River impacted the writings of famous authors like Washington Irving and now nature itself inspired the essays of naturalist John Burroughs.
In Rinaldi and Yasinsac’s Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape, the authors pay homage to the booming history of the Hudson River in the 19th century while also pointing out the troubling fact that the history has been disappearing before our very eyes. The book discusses the history of companies like Powell and Minnock Brick Company in Coeymans and the Fort Orange Paper Company in Castleton, both of which are close to Albany and benefitted from the Albany waterfront. Both were thriving companies until the 20th century when the economy shifted with the impact of the world wars and changing technology. The relationship between Albany and the waterfront changed, leaving behind the ruins of these companies among other historic sites. This book helps strengthen the historiography by providing a history of the individual sites and a broad history of the region while also engaging in a question of how local history is taught and maintained.
Albany has a long and rich history with the Hudson River, but the connection between the residents and the river has been all but lost. There are movements to enhance the waterfront and books like Hudson Valley Ruins pose the challenge to maintain the history of the waterfront. Overall these books all showed the importance of the region during the 19th century and the connection that Albany and the Hudson had to the Market Revolution as a hub of connectivity.

Larson, John Lauritz. The Market Revolution in America: Liberty, Ambition, and the Eclipse of the Common Good. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

McGreevy, Patrick. Stairway to Empire: Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009.

Bernstein, Peter L. Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.

Schuyler, David. Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

McEneny, John J., Dennis Holzman, and Robert W. Arnold. Albany, Capital City on the Hudson: An Illustrated History. Sun Valley, CA: American Historical Press, 2006.

Rinaldi, Thomas E., and Rob Yasinsac. Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2006.

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

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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