Sean Fraga: Digital Visualizations of Pacific Northwest Maritime Trade Networks during American Settlement, 1851–61

Hello everyone! I’m Sean Fraga. I hold a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University and am currently a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program. I study links between mobility, technology, the environment, and social change. My current research explores the role of steam power in American territorial expansion, especially in the Pacific Northwest. 

At this year’s Six Shooter session, I’ll be discussing my digital history project, They Came on Waves of Ink: Pacific Northwest Maritime Trade at the Dawn of American Settlement, 1851–61. This project created maps and data visualizations from archival U.S. Customs records to show commercial links between Puget Sound’s first American settlers and the Pacific World. 

Waves of Ink tells the stories hidden in a beaten-up, handwritten ledger. In 1851, the United States created the Puget Sound Customs District as part of the nation’s territorial expansion to the Pacific Coast. During the district’s first decade, U.S. Customs officials used this ledger to record a wealth of information about each vessel arriving and departing Puget Sound: its name, nationality, tonnage, type, place built, registration, voyage dates, inbound and outbound ports, captain’s name, cargo carried, and details about the crew and passengers. 

My research team and I transcribed roughly 4,500 entries across 150 pages. A copy of the preliminary transcription is available on GitHub. This project was supported by Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities, which hosted me as a postgraduate research associate during spring semester 2019. I am now preparing the dataset and related articles for publication.

This project helps reveal the importance of maritime trade to American colonization of the Pacific Northwest. At the WHA, I’ll discuss the transcription process, readying the dataset for analysis, and ways of exploring the data with Excel, QGIS, and Palladio. 

Cynthia C. Prescott: Pioneer Monuments in the American West

Hi, my name is Cynthia Prescott, and I am an associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota. My website, Pioneer Monuments in the American West, began as an inexpensive way to display color photographs of the nearly 200 public statues and sculptural reliefs I examine in my new book.  But building that website had a profound impact on my research project. Going digital enabled me to better manage my growing database of monuments. A tool developed for that website enabled me to map the erection of those monuments over both time and space. That in turn led me to ask new research questions that enriched my analysis of those monuments on the website and in the book.

As public attention turned toward increasingly controversial monuments beginning in 2015, I reimagined the scope and purpose of my website. While it remains a repository for images and content that didn’t fit into my 400-page monograph, I now envision it primarily as a tool for public engagement. Through my website and a variety of other platforms, I seek to inform ongoing debates about controversial monuments, and to spark conversations about similar monuments that have thus far gone unchallenged. I gave a series of public presentations, several of which can now be streamed through my website. I collaborated with K-12 teachers to develop model lesson plans that are now freely available on that site. And I am partnering with Clio—a website and mobile app that guides the public to thousands of historic sites—to reach more readers and to build actual and virtual tours of pioneer monuments throughout the United States.

2017 WHA Six-Shooters Session

The 2017 Six-Shooters digital history lightning round session, sponsored by the WHA Technology Committee, featured nine presenters sharing their research, teaching, and public projects at the WHA conference in San Diego, CA (photos by Doug Seefeldt, session chair):

  • Adam Arenson, Manhattan College
  • Jared Eberle, Oklahoma State University
  • Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Jessica Kim, California State University, Northridge
  • Chris Repka, St. Mary’s University
  • Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University
  • Jay Taylor, Simon Fraser University
  • Bryan Winston, St. Louis University
  • Linnea Zeiner, San Diego State University

Lineup for 2017 Six-Shooters Session

Here is an alphabetical list of the presenters that we have confirmed for the Technology Committee-sponsored session, “Six-Shooters: A Digital Frontiers Lightning Round”:

  • Adam Arenson, Manhattan College
  • Jared Eberle, Oklahoma State University
  • Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Jessica Kim, California State University, Northridge
  • Chris Repka, St. Mary’s University
  • Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University
  • Jay Taylor, Simon Fraser University
  • Bryan Winston, St. Louis University
  • Linnea Zeiner, San Diego State University

The session will be chaired by Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University, and is scheduled for Thursday, November 2nd from 1:30-3:00 PM in the Monte Carlo room of the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, San Diego, California. Each presenter has six minutes and six slides (“Six-Shooters,” get it?) for their presentation. All presenters will entertain questions from the audience at the conclusion of all of the presentations. We encourage what may seem like “basic” questions as well as “shop talk” from those in attendance.

Please check this website in the days leading up to the conference for posts by each presenter introducing themselves and providing brief descriptions of the work they plan to present.

2016 WHA Six-Shooters Session

The 2016 Six-Shooters digital history lightning round session, sponsored by the WHA Technology Committee, featured seven presenters sharing their research, teaching, and public projects at the WHA conference in St. Paul, MN (photos by Doug Seefeldt, session chair):

  • Sarah Clayton, University of Oklahoma Libraries
  • Julie Davis, University of Minnesota
  • Mikal Eckstrom, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Jeff Malcomson, Montana Historical Society
  • Rob Voss, Northwest Missouri State University
  • Chris Wells, Macalester College
  • Lindsey Passenger Wieck, University of Notre Dame

Lineup for WHA 2016 Six-Shooters Session

Here is a list of the presenters that we have confirmed for the Technology Committee sponsored session, “Six-Shooters: A Digital Frontiers Lightning Round”:

  • Sarah Clayton, University of Oklahoma Libraries
  • Julie Davis, University of Minnesota
  • Mikal Eckstrom, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Jeff Malcomson, Montana Historical Society
  • Rob Voss, Northwest Missouri State University
  • Chris Wells, Macalester College
  • Lindsey Passenger Wieck, University of Notre Dame

The session will be chaired by Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University, and is scheduled for Sunday, October 23rd from 8:30-10:00 AM in Governors III of the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront, St. Paul, Minnesota. Please check this website in the days leading up to the conference for introductions by each presenter and brief descriptions of the work they plan to present.

A View into the 2015 Six-Shooters Digital History Session

The lineup for the 2015 Six-Shooters digital history lightning round session, sponsored by the WHA Technology Committee, featured six presenters sharing their research, teaching, and public projects (photos by Doug Seefeldt, session chair):