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.

Adam Arenson: Easy and Hard Methods for Tracking African North Americans in Historical Records

I’m a historian of North America and director of the Urban Studies program at Manhattan College, having previously taught at UTEP. My first two books are on Civil War St. Louis and Mid-Century Modern Los Angeles, as well as co-editing books on frontier cities and the Civil War West. I teach American West, urban history, regions and borderlands history, African American history, and places those fields intersect, especially in the nineteenth century.

I am excited to be attending the WHA in my hometown!

In my Six Shooter presentation, I will describe my ongoing research on African North Americans who crossed the U.S.-Canada border after the Civil War. While I have not found many narrative sources, I have found many data points of African North American migration. This presentation will describe ongoing efforts to visualize and analyze this data using government documents, geo-location scripts, and Tableau visualizations and the role of a New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Labs grant, my colleague Dr. Musa Jafar, and our undergraduate students in this research.

Jay Taylor: Follow the Money

Hi all. I’ll be presenting on Follow the Money: A Spatial History of In-Lieu Programs for Western Federal Lands. This is a digital project constructed as part of the Spatial History Project at Stanford University’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis. I’ve worked with co-author Erik Steiner and a team of programmers, historians, and geographers to assemble time-series maps of transfer payments from federal land management agencies to counties in the eleven far western states known as the “public lands states.” The data in this program illustrates how federal conservation laws created long fiscal relationships between land management agencies and state and county governments in the American West, and they graphically demonstrate the deep, often invisible, political economy that inheres in the federal domain. The maps also help illustrate the patchy, non-linear history of natural resource industries in the American West since 1906. Finally, the maps expose problems with the simplistic ways that advocates and scholars have represented the federal domain and Progressive conservation since the 1890s.

Christopher Repka: Utilizing Augmented Reality to Create a Virtual Museum at Mission Concepción in San Antonio, TX

Hello, my name is Chris Repka, and I am in my last year as an undergraduate student of Public History at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. This past summer, I was a recipient of a research grant from St. Mary’s University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. For my summer research project, I began the development of an augmented reality application for Android and iPhone for use on San Antonio’s Mission Trail, which was recently designated a World Heritage Site. I began constructing virtual exhibits for users of the application to experience while visiting Mission Concepcion, but the bulk of the work that was completed was developing the framework for exhibit creation.

In this presentation, I will present my augmented reality mobile application as a powerful means of experiencing and discovering the history of a place while present at an historical site. Not intended to replace or contest park interpreters, the application serves as an effective means of engaging visitors with documents, academic studies, and artifacts while remaining engaged with an historic site. In this presentation, I will also discuss long-term development goals for this smartphone application. I hope to have a fully developed beta version of this application available on the iPhone App Store and Google Play for Android devices for use at Mission Concepcion within the next year.

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

Rob Voss: Developing Student DH

Hi everyone, I am Rob Voss, Assistant Professor of History and Social Science Education Coordinator at Northwest Missouri State University. In my role as professor at a moderately selective Midwestern state university, I have a full teaching load of 4/4, plus an overload class, 47 advisees, and supervision responsibilities of student teachers in the field. That said, I am fully committed to developing Digital History as part of what we do as historians, yet my ability to commit to large scale projects is limited. Despite the limitations, there are smaller scale DH projects that are accessible to most undergraduates. In my time as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was part of the first digital history class offered and worked on the Railroads Project and Civil War Washington in various capacities.

As part of my Six Shooters presentation, I will talk about how I have used my role as professor over the last three years to develop student DH projects with a focus on bringing scalable projects to high school classrooms. Student exposure to DH at a high school level will allow for further development at the undergraduate level. I have had my first set of student teachers enter the job market with DH on their resumes and will present on some of their experiences with high school students.