Monthly Archives: March 2013

March 27, 2013 – More Text Analysis

This week I finally got through the remaining edits to the historiographical essay and sent it off to Dr. Miller.  After that I finished the main content of the online exhibit but I still need to go back to it again.  And I did more text analysis.

As I mentioned last week, I had gotten back into the details about the burying or disappearance of slavery in Canada.  It’s very hard to prove the absence of something, but I have done what I can and made the corresponding edits.  I also did some text analysis after I sent off my last version of the essay to Dr. Miller and discovered an interesting (and supporting) pattern.  Using Google Book’s Ngram Viewer tool, I submitted a search for the term “abolition of slavery” within two corpuses.  One corpus is made up of British books and the other is of American books.  And both show books scanned by Google going back to 1600.  The interesting pattern shows that the phrase “abolition of slavery” was very spiky in American books, cropping up significantly after Britain abolished slavery, during the U.S. Civil War, during the 1890s, and during the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and 70s.  But by comparison, the British use of that same phrase over this same time period is both much less frequent and much less spiky.  It should be recognized that Britain doesn’t necessarily equate to Canada, but there is no Canadian corpus available in the Google tool.  I may add this graph to my essay, since it helps to show that the recognition of slavery in British history (and perhaps its colonies and dominions, such as Canada) was less apparent than in American history.

I finished adding the last item, Dr. Carrie Best, to my online collection, including the description and other metadata for the image.  And then I added that final item to the online exhibit, on the Conclusion page, and added the associated final exhibit text.  Now I just need to go back to update the exhibit with my final text analysis.

To that end, I did some more text analysis using Voyant.  Dr. Graham had suggested that I try importing all four of my main historiographical texts into Voyant at the same time, so that I could look at the use of words in the text as they changed over time.  I had some trouble pulling the larger texts in with the smaller ones and after trying for a while, I sent off my problem to Dr. Graham.  I was trying to insert the four URLs, and that worked, but only for the two smaller documents.  Dr. Graham saved all four as PDF files, then combined them in one big zip file, and imported the zip file.  Thank you, Dr. Graham!  So with that, I was able to do quite a bit more analysis.  I created graphs showing the use of certain words to demonstrate the changing style of writing over time.  The words I used were revolution, god, hero, my (to indicate the inclusion of the author’s self in the narrative), and law.  I also included several words related to each of these, such as, for revolution I included revolutionary and French revolution.  I have cut and pasted these graphs into my essay to help prove the point about changes in writing style.  I think it is worth noting that these graphs are only based on four documents, each of which has its own characteristics and point of view.  The Google Books Ngram Tool is better in the sense that it uses hundreds or maybe even thousands of books.  However, the Voyant tool has much more depth of analytical capability, such as being able to look at the use of words in the context of specific phrases, as well as many other powerful features.

So this week, which is my final week, I will add some of the graphs to my online exhibit in place of some of the word clouds, and I will begin to work on my presentation for the “Make History Matter” event.  I will also see if it makes sense to add the Ngram graph to the essay.  I may get more comments back from Dr. Miller for the essay.  One way or another, I will send the newer version of the essay to Dr. Miller which includes the graphs.

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March 20, 2013 – Still Finishing the Exhibit and the Essay

I have moved forward this week on both the online exhibit and the essay.  I met with both Dr. Graham and Dr. Miller, and both gave me helpful feedback.  Dr. Graham has sent me a couple of other links to tools that I will use to do some final text analysis.  Dr. Miller sent me comments that I am in the process of including in the essay.

The online exhibit continues to move forward.  I have most of the items created and have now to finalize the exhibit.  I have been receiving responses all along to my requests for permission from various sources to use their images on my exhibit.  When I post each image, I send an email request to the owner of the copyright and I put in the metadata the words “Permission Requested”.  When the permission comes in, I file the permission notification for future reference, and change the metadata to say “Public Domain” or “Copyright Expired” or “Permission on File”, as is appropriate for each situation.  I have sent requests to the AfroNews, in B.C. twice and have not yet heard back, so the image I got from their website remains “Permission Requested”.

My work on the essay has been going more slowly than I’d expected.  I seem to be back down in the weeds again trying to demonstrate that Black history about slavery in Canada disappeared from the history books.  I have made the change that it probably began to disappear shortly after slavery was abolished in 1833.  But it is very difficult to prove that historical mention of something doesn’t exist.  I have a quote from a contemporary academic historian to this effect.  And I have gone back to searching for material about slavery.  All I am finding is the work by Justice W.R. Riddell in the early twentieth century about slavery in Canada.  And even he seems not to use any documentary evidence after around 1811.  He just mentions that, after 1793 when slavery was limited under law, that slavery diminished in Canada.  I think I am going to have to move on from this topic since it is burying me and not giving me time to address the other parts of the essay or the exhibit.

This week I hope to finalize the essay, and do the additional text analysis.  I think there are only ten days left of classes so I have a lot to do before then.

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March 13, 2013 – Work and Re-work on the Online Exhibit

I have made quite good progress this week on the online exhibit.  Each image in the exhibit uses an “item” that is imported from the main collection.  To create an item, you have to attach the digital image and then fill in all the metadata about the image, such as title, description, source, creator, publisher, copyright, date, format, type, and identifier.  So far I have created 26 out of 36 items.  I have also imported each of them into the exhibit and added the narrative that tells the story of the exhibit.

Because I couldn’t have as many images on an exhibit page as I had wanted, I ended up splitting the exhibit into more pages with fewer images on each.  The first three pages use a format that includes up to eight images.  These three pages look good, I think.  But I am less happy with the fourth page.  It has ten images and so has to use a different format.  This second format doesn’t look as good.  The spacing looks odd and it’s hard to read.  So I think I may go back and re-do this page.  I will have to take out two images, to get it down to eight so I can use the more-readable format.

I am meeting with Dr. Graham tomorrow to look at the exhibit.  Dr. Miller is going to send me comments on my essay.  So hopefully everything will be done on time.  We’re getting down to the final weeks now.

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March 6, 2013 – Historiographical Essay and BlackHistoryInCanada.ca

This has been a busy week.  I finalized my draft historiographical essay and submitted it to Professors Miller and Graham on Monday.  It ended up being about six pages longer than I’d planned but I guess I just had a lot to say.  So I’m still on track to have it finalized and done by March 21, per my original project proposal.  Drs. Miller and Graham and I are to meet on March 14 to discuss it and the online exhibit.

With respect to the exhibit, I’m made some reasonable progress on it.  I have been able to get logged in and have created my main exhibit structure and appearance.  I’ve also added about 6 “items” which form the beginnings of my main collection.  As I enter the items, I have begun populating my exhibit.

I wanted to embed a picture in the main page and found a way, using html to insert an image from the collection into the text.  Unfortunately, this only seems to work on the main (title) page of the exhibit.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to embed a picture in the text of an exhibit page.  I’ve tried various html approaches.  And I’ve tried linking into a nested simple page.  Next I’m going to try creating a different exhibit page layout to see if other layouts have more flexibility.

Basically, I want each of my exhibit pages to provide a list of images with accompanying text.  This is easy to do as long as I don’t need more than 8 images.  In one case I want 12 images, and in another case I want 17 images.  So I thought I might double up some of the images by inserting extra images into the text box.  I can do it, but when I save my work, Omeka strips out the images.

I’ve been checking out plugins and other documentation but haven’t had any success so far.  So I’ll continue plugging away at it.  In the worst case scenario I’ll change the format of my exhibit to have more pages, each with fewer images.

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