Data, visuals, and visualization (September 17)

Resources for in-class discussion

Map of Salem Village and map of witchcraft accusers and accused

Cholera in London

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1912

On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces

Animal City

Digitally reconstructing Washington, DC as it appeared circa 1814

Chronozoom project

Name Voyager and Name Mapper


1. How might a humanist approach or use data sets differently than a scientist would?

2. Why might historians want to create visualizations?

3. What are the advantages and liabilities (for historians and their audiences) of transforming data into visualizations?

4. Which of the visualizations in the reading, or at the links above, do you find particularly interesting or persuasive, and why?  Which ones are less interesting or persuasive?

An in-class exercise

1. Find online either (a) sources that you could convert into data or (b) an existing dataset drawn from primary sources.

2. What questions might an historian ask of this data?

3. What methods might the historian use to make sense of this data?

4. What kind(s) of visualization(s) do you think would be most useful to (a) the historian as she conducts her analysis and (b) the audience for her work?

5. Post your responses to these questions, along with a link to the data or dataset you used in your example, to the course blog.  In the category list, check the box for “data experimentation.”  Be sure to include the first names of everyone in your group.


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