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
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Jason Heppler: The American Indian Digital History Project

Greetings! I am Jason Heppler. I am at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where I am the Digital Engagement Librarian and an Assistant Professor of History. UNO has a major focus on community engagement and service learning, and in my role there I lead initiatives in public history and digital engagement. That mission forms a key part in the soft launch of the American Indian Digital History Project, led by Kent Blansett and myself.

The aim of our project is to develop and cooperative digital archive, seeking to partner with Native Nations and Indigenous communities throughout Native North America. Our plan is to digitize newspapers, photographs, and archival materials in order to increase access to historical Tribal documents and encourage responsible research into American Indian history. As part of these partnerships, we will also work with Tribal governments to create a digital repository for local Tribes. The initial launch of the archive has digitized the entire run of Akwesasne Notes and will soon be digitizing and releasing a Native-produced law journal, plate glass negative photographs, and material acquired through our Mobile Archives initiative.

Linnea Zeiner: HACKING History

Hi everyone! My name is Linnea Zeiner and I am a Lecturer at San Diego State University and a doctoral student in Communication at UCSD. In The Department of Classics and Humanities at SDSU I am exploring inverted approaches to teaching Honors and GE Courses utilizing transmedia, deformance, and mixed realities. I work out of the experimental and collaborative environment of the ITS Learning Research Studios, where students utilize state of the art technology to engage in visual analyzations and critique social constructions.

In my talk, Hacking History with Layered Student Research, I will share how undergraduate students at San Diego State University are being connected across disciplines through digital learning activities. This multi-modal presentation outlines Digital Humanities pedagogical research that began in the Spring of 2015 with lower-division U.S. History classes and has continued through 2017 with upper-division Humanities classes on “The Future” and American Culture. The designed pedagogy is highly influenced by Michael J. Kramer, The Situationists, Johanna Drucker’s visual production of knowledge, media theory, and punk pedagogy.

Doug Seefeldt: “The Last of the Mohicans Realized in London”: Visualizing the Wild West in Britain, 1887-88

In 1887, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody embarked for England on his first international tour. During the original London run of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West–coinciding with the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee–the Wild West routinely played to more than twenty thousand people in fourteen performances a week. It was the subject of nonstop coverage in the London press and enthralled the country’s political and cultural elites. Over two million visitors witnessed the spectacle, and millions more read about it.

This digital research project uses topic modeling and text analysis tools to analyze popular representations of the American West published in London prior to the arrival of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1887. It visualizes how these widely-read texts shaped and reflected conceptions of the American West among the British reading public and compares these visualizations to textual analyses of promotional material generated by Cody’s marketing team as well to commentary on the performances in British periodicals and newspapers.

Preliminary findings suggest that while Cody was depicted as the “Last of the Mohicans” in the Illustrated Penny Press upon his arrival in England–a representation that conflated early and late-nineteenth-century American frontier experiences–he departed having conveyed to his imperial-era British audience a new sense of the American West as the locus of a distinctive crucible of civilization-building in an increasingly globalized age.

Jessica Kim: Form and Landscape

Greetings from Los Angeles!  My “Six Shooter” will focus on Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990, a digital exhibit organized in 2014 as part of Pacific Standard Time Presents, a Getty Research Institute initiative designed to showcase Southern California’s impact on modern architecture and urban forms.  A corporate photography archive, particularly of a utility company, might at first sound incredibly mundane.  However, the Southern California Edison photo archive, from which this exhibit drew, is arguably the most vast and compelling visual narrative of explosive metropolitan growth in Los Angeles.

Form and Landscape was not the first digital exhibit of its type and it certainly will not be the last.  The project creators and curators, however, believe that the exhibit was remarkable for a number of reasons, almost all related to scope and scale.  The archive from which we drew contains an astounding 70,000 images.  These images were produced over almost a century (late 1880s to 1970s).  The images capture landscapes from across California and beyond, from home kitchens to the Hoover Dam.  The project involved eighteen curators and the exhibit included over 500 images.  Themes and images range from the small and intimate (text and domesticity) to the expansive and vast (landscape and technology).  And finally, we welcomed far more virtual visitors than we will ever have readers of our books or articles: 60,000 at last count.

The exhibit lives here: http://pstp-edison.com/

And you can access the archive here: http://cdm16003.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16003coll2

Bryan Winston: Mapping Mexican Migration Patterns through Mexico and the Midwest

I am Bryan Winston, a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at Saint Louis University. This fall I am co-teaching an upper-level undergraduate course, History of the American West. My dissertation, “Mexican Corridors: Policy and Migration Flows in the Central United States, 1910-1950,” examines Mexican migration to and community formation in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. I highlight many sites of ethnic Mexican regional community formation, like Mexican consulates and community organizations while emphasizing themes of mobility, the construction of race, and transnationalism.

For the Six Shooters, I will explain the digital potential of my dissertation’s source base and showcase some of the datasets I have created. My presentation details the mapping capability of Mexican consulate passport registrations and U.S. naturalization records, which I examined while researching in Mexico City and Kansas City. Passport registrations and petitions for naturalization recorded places of birth, ports of entry, family history, and other locations along a migrant’s path through Mexico and the United States. I have geocoded many of these locations and use Carto to create maps that reveal migration patterns. I will also discuss where I hope to go with this project, such as layering migration patterns with maps of consulate jurisdictions, places of employment, and community institutions.

Jared Eberle: Women and African Americans in Oklahoma Rodeos

Howdy! My name is Jared Eberle and I am a Ph.D Candidate at Oklahoma State University, specializing in 20th Century American Indian activism. My talk at the six shooters presentation will cover an ongoing project at Oklahoma State University directed by Dr. Laura Arata to document the participation of women and African Americans in local rodeos, largely after the 1920s. Rodeo is traditionally seen as a white, masculine sport, but this project seeks to incorporate the rich tradition of women participating in rodeos in all capacities as well as the successful all-black rodeos in Oklahoma.

This project grew out of both OSU’s push for an increased presence in digital humanities, as well as our specialization in both public history and the American West. The pressing issue for the project, and the subject of my talk, is that the department does not have a dedicated “digital” historian so those involved have had to start from the bottom, both in terms of broadly understanding the field as well as the technical aspects. So far, we have a basic site for the women in rodeo project and this semester’s digital history class is hard at work constructing the companion African American rodeo website, both of which will be long term projects that will we can use to flesh out our digital history initiatives going forward. Translating these ideas to the digital realm has involved a balancing act of producing a good product while not having the time to direct towards mastering the behind-the-scenes technical aspects that can go into a project of this nature.